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S China Sea maritime dispute: China rejects UN mediation

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Beijing (Dec. 07, 2014): China today rejected UN arbitration to resolve the South China Sea (SCS) maritime dispute with its neighbours, asserting that it should be settled through direct bilateral negotiations.

As the deadline to respond to UN mediation sought by the Philippines to arbitrate its maritime dispute with China over the South China Sea inched close, Beijing today issued a lengthy explanation rejecting international arbitration asserting that it should be settled through direct bilateral negotiations.

A Position Paper issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry alleged that the Philippines is attempting to resolve the dispute through "compulsory arbitration" by the UN Convention on Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), without exercising the option to settle it through direct talks.

The Philippines had approached the UN body last year questioning China's claims to the Spratly islands, called Nansha islands by Beijing, and the waters around them.

The paper was released as a UN Arbitral Tribunal appointed to deal with the case has asked China to submit its counter-memorial before December 15.

China has settled disputes with 12 of the 14 countries with which it shares borders. Boundary disputes remain only with India and Bhutan.

Rejecting the legality of the arbitration, Xu Hong, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Foreign Ministry told a briefing that sovereignty issue is completely beyond the scope of the Convention.

"China and the Philippines have reached agreement to settle their relevant disputes through negotiation. And China has never accepted any compulsory procedures for the relevant disputes," he said accusing Philippines of "abusing" the compulsory procedures provided in the Convention.

"Such a practice is and should be frowned upon internationally. By refusing to accept or participate in the arbitration initiated by the Philippines, China is defending its sovereign right to choose a means of dispute settlement of its free will. Our decision is an exercise of the rights we enjoy under international law, and is well founded on international law," he said.