People's Daily: Grandstanding cannot cover up illegal moves
The People's Daily on Monday carried the first of a series of commentaries on the Philippines' South China Sea arbitration farce. Following is a translated version of the full text:
Since taking office as the Philippines' Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Albert F. del Rosario has spared no effort to defame China on all kinds of international occasions and, in that process, managed to enhance his own visibility. On 30 November, at the arbitral tribunal set up at the unilateral request of his country, Mr. del Rosario once again demonstrated to the world his exceptional talent in performance.
At the hearing, Mr. del Rosario went to great lengths to win sympathy for his country by depicting it as a helpless underdog with much grievance. But he made no mention, none whatsoever, of the historical facts of how, over the years, the Philippines encroached upon China's rights and interests in the South China Sea. As a matter of fact, the root cause of his country's dispute with China over the South China Sea is no other than his country's occupation of some Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its assertion of illegal territorial claims since the 1970s. Neither the international treaties that establish the scope of the Philippines' territory nor the Philippines' own constitution before 1997 includes the Nansha Islands or the Huangyan Island in the country's map. No matter how hard he tries to frame the facts or confuse the concepts, Mr. del Rosario would not be able to cover up the nature of the matter, i.e. the infringement of China's lawful rights and interests by the Philippines.
At the hearing, a scare-mongering Mr. del Rosario made far-fetched accusations against China. His statement of a limited length contained a litany of astonishing yet, alas, totally untrue allegations against China, such as using "the threat of force" against the Philippines, violating international law including UNCLOS and even the UN Charter, building "a Berlin Wall of the Sea", "intentionally" creating "one of the biggest emerging environmental disasters in the world", and "interfering with" the Philippinos' efforts to "promote social progress" and "achieve a better standard of life". One could hardly expect such fabricated and wanton allegations from any respectable foreign secretary.
At the hearing, Mr. del Rosario went so far as to say that the Philippines initiated the arbitration "precisely to preserve that friendship" with China, "a valued friend". Such eloquence is simply awesome. Without giving a prior notice to China, the Philippines initiated the arbitration in a way that can be nicely summed up as "the guilty party filing the suit first." And all this while, the Philippines has protested its innocence. Did Mr. del Rosario actually intend to say that the unilateral initiation of the arbitration is a goodwill gesture to China? While covering up its illegal moves, the Philippines has been vilifying most vigorously China's lawful rights and interests and legitimate activities in the South China Sea. An ancient Chinese sage said, "Great speech is exact and complete; small speech is merely so much talk." All those high-sounding words from Mr. del Rosario cannot gloss over the basic facts of the Philippines infringing on China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. Rather, they give yet another example of the Philippines' twisted logic of "a robber acting like a cop."
State sovereignty is a core principle in contemporary international law. No force is above a sovereign state. No country, organization or individual could expect China to stand by and allow its interests to be harmed. Here is a piece of advice for people like Mr. del Rosario: Don't misread the situation. The Chinese government and people are adamant about safeguarding China's rights and interests in the South China Sea. All calculating moves against that would end up in failure.Lies could not change the rights and wrongs with regard to the South China Sea.
Treacherous schemes won't fool people forever. In his capacity as foreign secretary, Mr. del Rosario has repeatedly made irresponsible remarks and, turning a blind eye to China's goodwill, deliberately hyped up the South China Sea issue in the international arena. Noises about the South China Sea are doing a disservice to peace and harmony in the region. The Philippines, who started the whole thing in the first place, has to bear the blame and Mr. del Rosario certainly has to be held responsible more than many others. China remains willing to handle its dispute with the Philippines with utmost goodwill. But any attempt to interpret China's goodwill with malicious intentions and mislead public opinion will backfire someday. Mr. del Rosario's eye-catching words and deeds may well please some non-regional forces who want to disturb the situation in the South China Sea. Yet at the end of the day, it is the overall interests of the Philippines and its people that are at stake. We urge the Philippines to be realistic as well as responsible make good on its serious commitments made in bilateral documents with China and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and seek a solution to its dispute with China over territory and maritime rights and interests through bilateral consultation and negotiation in order to maintain peace,stability and prosperity in the South China Sea.
People's Daily: China's sovereignty over South China Sea islands brooks no denial
The People's Daily on Tuesday carried the second of a series of commentaries on the Philippines' South China Sea arbitration farce. Following is a translated version of the full text:
The hearing on the merits of the South China Sea arbitration case further reveals the true colors of the Philippines. The truth about the "Emperor's New Clothes" is out. During the hearing, the Philippines made a big fuss about China's sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and went out of its way to negate China's territorial sovereignty. This fully demonstrates that the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines is, in essence, a dispute about territory. The only motive and objective of the Philippines' initiation of the arbitration is to deny China's sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands. But no matter how this "arbitration" farce continues to play out, China's sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands brooks no denial.
In disregard of basic historical facts, the Philippines falsely claims that the Chinese people historically have carried out few activities and have had no presence in the South China Sea, and China never has sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands. History, however, brooks no denial. The South China Sea Islands have been China's territory since ancient times. Successive Chinese governments have exercised continuous jurisdiction over the islands by means of administrative control, military patrol, production and business operations, and maritime disaster relief, among others. During the Japanese war of aggression against China, Japan occupied China's Xisha and Nansha islands. Following its victory in the war, China sent warships to recover the Xisha and Nansha islands, and garrisoned troops and built various military and civilian facilities on the islands, thus resuming exercise of sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands de jure and de facto.
Disregarding its untold suffering and devastation inflicted by the Japanese militarist aggression during the Second World War, the Philippines unexpectedly claimed the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation not legally binding.
As a matter of fact, these two documents are important international legal instruments published during the Second World War, and form the bedrock of the post-war international order in East Asia. It is clearly stipulated in the two documents that Japan shall return the Chinese territory it had stolen from China.
In the document on normalization of its diplomatic ties with China, Japan also made explicit commitment to complying with the relevant provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation. Some members of the Philippine authorities, out of their smug calculation of territorial expansion, have turned a blind eye to historical facts and gone so far as to seek selfish interests at the expense of the feelings of the Philippine people and the fruits of the World Anti-Fascist War. This only exposes the shortsightedness of these Philippine politicians, who could have no bottom line at all even in pursuit of just a few petty interests.
The Philippines erroneously claims that the Nansha Islands have been "terra nullius" since the end of the Second World War, saying that the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed in 1951 only asked Japan to give up its rights and claims on the Nansha Islands without clarifying that the islands should be returned to China. First of all, China does not recognize the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
Secondly, China has all along enjoyed sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands; it restored the jurisdiction over the Nansha Islands after the Second World War through a series of actions, or in another word, the Nansha Islands have been returned to their original owner. In this sense, the Nansha Islands have always been China's territory. How can they become "terra nullius"? Fabrication of the excuse of "terra nullius" only lays bare the Philippines' territorial expansion and insatiable greed.
In essence, the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines is a territorial dispute between the two countries caused by Philippines' illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands after the 1970s. China and the Philippines have on many occasions reached consensus on resolving the relevant dispute through negotiations and consultations. To push ahead with the arbitration, the Philippines broke its promises, and disguised the dispute into one over the so-called "interpretation and application of the UNCLOS". Once the disguise is removed, however, people will see clearly the essence and root cause of the dispute. What does the dispute between China and the Philippines over the Nansha islands and reefs have to do with the interpretation and application of the UNCLOS? The unilateral initiation of the arbitration is an out-and-out political provocation under the cloak of law. The ulterior motive of the Philippines is to snatch China's territory through a farce like this.
Nevertheless, the determination of the Chinese people to safeguard its territorial integrity is as firm as a rock. Only the Chinese people have the final say when it comes to China's territory. Any attempt to negate China's sovereignty, rights and interests through a so-called "arbitration award" will be nothing but wishful thinking, just like flowers in a mirror and reflection of the moon in water. By going back on its own words and confusing the concepts for the purpose of territorial expansion, the Philippines will only end up bringing disgrace on itself.
People's Daily: The DOC brooks no distortion
The People's Daily on Wednesday carried the third of a series of commentaries on the Philippines' South China Sea arbitration farce. Following is a translated version of the full text:
In midsummer 2015, the so-called South China Sea arbitration hearing that the Philippines had been clamoring for and brewing in the past two years finally started. Recently, the relevant arbitral tribunal held this so-called hearing in The Hague, Netherlands, where the Philippine side made irresponsible and derogatory remarks in its statements on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by relevant countries in 2002. Such remarks are indeed astonishing.It is well known that in the late 1960s, a report of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East stirred up the South China Sea. To vie for interests in oil resources, some countries laid territorial claims to China' s Nansha Islands and illegally occupied some of the islands and reefs, giving rise to the South China Sea issue. For the purpose of managing disputes among the parties and maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, China and ASEAN countries started their communication in the 1990s to jointly explore a dispute settlement approach suitable for the region. After a long period of consultation and mutual adaptation, China and the ten ASEAN countries officially signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2002, which announced to the world that regional countries had an official document to follow when dealing with issues in the South China Sea. Since then, the South China Sea disputes gradually quieted down and peace and stability was maintained for over a decade. The DOC won the reputation of a "stability anchor." Article 4 of the DOC stipulates that, "The Parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea." With eight more years of joint efforts, China and the ten ASEAN countries reached agreement on the Guidelines for the Implementation of the DOC in 2011, and started the historical process of fully and effectively implementing the DOC.
However, since taking office, the current government of the Philippines has drastically changed the country's constructive attitude for good faith cooperation in the past, gone back on its commitment under the DOC and trampled on the common efforts of relevant countries in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea. It meticulously planned an "arbitration" farce with the instigation and support of some country outside the region in an attempt to re-create disputes in the South China Sea. At the hearing, the Philippines' counsel made unfounded statements that the DOC had never created any right or obligation and it was merely an expediency of mutual compromise, and that the path of seeking dispute settlement through friendly negotiation chosen by the parties through joint commitment was non-binding and had not achieved any anticipated result. Such statements can be traced back to the earlier "Memorial" filed by the Philippine side. One cannot help but ask, if a sovereign state can dishonor its commitment and willfully break its promise, if the DOC is indeed as meaningless as claimed by the Philippine side, then where does the international reputation of the Philippines, a sovereign state, rest upon? And where did the peace and stability in the South China Sea for over a decade come from?!
What is also astonishing is that the arbitral tribunal could not tell right from wrong and followed suit by belittling the DOC, the document signed by the governments of China and the ten ASEAN countries, in its ruling on the relevant jurisdiction issue. One cannot help but ask how can the choice of dispute settlement approach made by all the people of eleven countries, or nearly one third of the world's population, be easily overturned by a word or two of the arbitral tribunal?!
What's more, the relevant ruling also gives a distorted interpretation of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and arbitrarily interprets UNCLOS' stipulation on the "obligation to exchange views" on disputes. That is an attempt to lower the threshold for the states parties to enter into the compulsory procedures and to pave the way for new farces planned by some countries. If the interpretation of the arbitral tribunal becomes a reality, countries will be constantly involved in various legal actions and the world will hardly have a quiet day. All little disputes between two states will inevitably lead to lawsuits. Such an act of arbitrarily expanding the power of oneself will never have the consent of sovereign states.
The international rule of law upholding equity and justice cannot be distorted by a farce, and the DOC shall not become a scrap of paper just because of a few unfounded remarks. All parties to the DOC have the responsibility and obligation to safeguard its validity and authority, so that it can continue to play the role of a "stability anchor."People's Daily: Disregarding facts and jurisprudence, arbitration is neither fair nor just
The People's Daily on Thursday carried the fourth of a series of commentaries on the Philippines' South China Sea arbitration farce. Following is a translated version of the full text:
The Philippines' South China Sea arbitration is a political provocation under the cloak of law. In the end of October, in disregard of basic facts and fundamental jurisprudence, the Arbitral Tribunal set up at the unilateral request of the Philippines rendered the award on jurisdiction and admissibility of the arbitration.
Confounding black and white, the Tribunal spared no effort to back up the Philippines' arguments, thus rendering support and encouragement to the Philippines' illegal occupation of China's territory and encroachment upon China's maritime rights and interests. Fraught with far-fetched and unfounded assumptions, the reasoning process of the Tribunal was by no means based on facts, common sense or justice, and its positions were neither fair nor impartial.
What has truly happened cannot be covered up by an arbitration that ignores facts. The Tribunal deliberately framed the previous consultations between China and the Philippines concerning disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation as consultations on the interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and affirmed these consultations as evidence that the Philippines had fulfilled its obligation of exchange of views. As a matter of fact, China and the Philippines have never had any negotiations, not even exchange of views, on the arbitration matters.
There is no trace of justice in an arbitration that violates jurisprudence. For example, the Tribunal knows full well that it has no jurisdiction over a case concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation. On the one hand, it evaded the essence of the dispute and insisted that this case had nothing to do with territorial sovereignty. On the other hand, in disregard of China' s declaration in accordance with UNCLOS in 2006 which excludes disputes concerning maritime delimitation from arbitral proceedings, the Tribunal deliberately included into its jurisdiction matters that, in essence, concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation. Such moves to arrogate power are a violation of the spirit of diligence and self-discipline which judicial bodies should honor when hearing cases. They are also detrimental to the credibility and value of dispute settlement through judicial means.
Another example is the one-sidedness and lack of impartiality in the Tribunal's selection and citation of judicial cases. On many occasions, it cited biased, highly controversial judicial or arbitral cases and used controversial views and verdicts put forth by arbitrators of this very Tribunal as legal precedent in support of views on the verdict of this case. Such so called self-sufficient and partial arguments have seriously damaged the integrity, logic and consistency of the relevant legal conclusion.
Yet another example is the malicious distortion of the relations between UNCLOS and customary international law. Turning a blind eye to customary international law,the Tribunal kept citing UNCLOS and attempted to make UNCLOS applicable to everything related to the sea. Any one familiar with international law would know well that the regime of international law of the sea provided in UNCLOS is, in itself, a summary of maritime history and practices and a reflection of the common aspirations of countries, and that the very text of UNCLOS shows respect for customary international law. What the Tribunal has done is a breach of the basic purposes and spirit of UNCLOS.
The Tribunal accepted the Philippines' false arguments in its entirety in disregard of the basic fact of the country's abuse of legal procedures. Its moves to jump to conclusions first and then prove them with distortion of evidence and verdicts will be a serious erosion of international judicial system that champions fairness and justice.
People's Daily: China is observing international law in the true sense
The People's Daily on Friday carried the fifth of a series of commentaries on the Philippines' South China Sea arbitration farce, titled "By not accepting and not participating in the arbitration initiated by the Philippines, China is observing international law in the true sense."
Following is a translated version of the full text:
The Philippines has lately been selling the South China Sea arbitration case it unilaterally initiated to the international community while defaming China, claiming that China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration undermines international rule of law. Such moves are best captured by a Chinese saying: the guilty party filing the suit first. The Philippine side is misleading public opinion by playing the "victim" in the arbitration farce it started in an attempt to cover up its moves that violate international law and trample upon international legal order in pursuit of illegal interests for itself. Non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is the move China has made to safeguard the international rule of law.China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is to uphold the sanctity of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS does not apply to territorial disputes at all. Furthermore, China' s declaration in accordance with UNCLOS in 2006 excludes disputes concerning maritime delimitation from arbitral proceedings. Undeniably, the dispute between China and the Philippines is in essence a dispute over territorial and maritime delimitation issues. In fact, the Philippines' initiation of the arbitration, in total disregard of international law and the spirit of UNCLOS, undermines the authority and sanctity of the Convention. In response to the Philippines' illegal moves, China refuses to "dance with it", and follows the policy of not accepting or participating in the arbitration. This position testifies to China's strong sense of responsibility, and is the righteous act China has taken to defend the legitimate rights and interests of a State Party to UNCLOS and to uphold the authority and sanctity of this international instrument.
China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is to honor the joint commitment it has made with the Philippines. The two sides reached consensus a long time ago on how to address the dispute. China and the Philippines have issued joint statements and news releases on multiple occasions and they both signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in which the two sides have pledged to settle disputes through friendly negotiations and consultations. By unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has negated its solemn commitment to its neighbors and the international community, and breached one of the core principles in international relations - Pacta sunt servanda ("agreements must be kept"), thus jeopardizing its own international credibility. By contrast, China's position of not accepting or participating in the arbitration demonstrates that it is true to its words.
China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is to uphold its lawful rights and interests. China has sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and lawful rights and interests in the South China Sea. No one, no country and no entity but the Chinese government has the right to make the decision on behalf of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. The Philippines chose to illegally occupy some of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea first, and then, file the case against China instead. Its purpose is no other than to cover up its illegal moves. China will not condone such illegal actions. China's position of non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is legitimate and justified.
China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration conforms with the general practice in addressing international disputes. National consent is the very core and soul of international law. The key to resolving disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests is for parties directly concerned to reach consensus ad idem. The Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration is by no means aimed at resolving the dispute. Rather, it is to further complicate the situation and to vilify China. What the Philippines is doing is an out-and-out political provocation. By contrast, China's way of addressing disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests through bilateral consultations and negotiations has proven effective. As a matter of fact, China has properly settled land boundary issues with 12 countries and completed the delimitation ofmaritime boundary in the Beibu Bay with Vietnam. China will continue to follow its current practice and will not accept arbitration as a way to settle disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests.China is firmly committed to upholding and building the international rule of law.
The Philippine's unilateral initiation of arbitration regarding the South China Sea is purely an attempt to sabotage the international rule of law and encroach upon China's rights and interests under the cloak of international law. China's non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration is a lawful and sensible response to the illegal moves of the Philippines. In addressing the South China Sea disputes, it is of no use to employ treacherous means, scare-mongering or slandering, or resort to a third party. The only viable way forward is for the Philippines to admit its mistake, change its course, and return to bilateral negotiations and consultations.