On March 30, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs stated that it submitted its Memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal that is hearing the case it brought against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in January 2013.
A lot of media friends ask for comments on this issue. In order that China’s position is clearly understood, I would like to elaborate on the following issues.
1. The Philippines’ initiation of and push for international arbitration has undermined China-Philippines relations.
Under normal circumstances, submission of dispute to international arbitration requires an agreement reached between the two parties concerned. Yet, the Philippine side had failed to notify the Chinese side, not to mention seeking China’s consent, before it actually initiated the arbitration. After the Philippine side initiated the arbitration, the Chinese side promptly made its position clear that China does not accept the arbitration. The Philippine side, in disregard of China’s position, has insisted on going ahead with the arbitration. What the Philippine side did seriously damaged bilateral relations with China. We find it very hard to understand these moves of the Philippines and we are deeply disturbed by and concerned with the consequence of such moves.
2. Why does China not accept the arbitration?
First, China is committed to resolving its disputes with the Philippines through bilateral negotiations.
China and the Philippines have between them territorial and maritime disputes. And it is just natural that disputes might exist between neighbors. What is important is how to resolve the disputes.