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Backgrounder: China's stands on South China Sea disputes

The Chinese foreign ministry was authorized to release last week a position paper of the government on the matter of jurisdiction in the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Republic of the Philippines.

The position paper reiterates China's firm standing that the Chinese government will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration, and elaborates at length on the legal basis for its position that the Arbitral Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over this case.

The following are China's stands on major issues over South China Sea in 2014.

On Feb. 28, China dismissed a Philippines media report that by promising to provide certain benefits, China had tried to persuade the Philippines not to submit the South China Sea dispute to the international court of justice.

"The report is totally groundless," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, stressing that the Chinese government will never trade off its sovereignty and territory, and its determination to safeguard territorial sovereignty and maritime interests is unswerving.

On March 26, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China will neither accept the unilateral action of the Philippines nor be present in the international arbitration.

Hong urged the Philippines to be fully aware of the complexity and sensitivity of the South China Sea dispute and come back to the right track of negotiations and consultations as soon as possible so as to avoid further harming bilateral relations.

On March 29, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China will never allow the Philippines to occupy the Ren'ai Reef off China's Nansha Islands in any form.

The Philippines' action can not change the fact that China owns sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Ren'ai Reef, and can not shake China's resolve to safeguard its national sovereignty, said the spokesman.

On May 30, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China cherishes the peace and stability of the South China Sea and disapproves of complicating, broadening or internationalizing the ongoing regional disputes over sovereignty during his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"We will never stir up trouble, but will react in the necessary way to the provocations of countries involved," Xi vowed.

On June 5, China urged Vietnam to stop all disruptions to drilling near the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, and withdraw all vessels from the scene.

Those actions have grossly infringed upon China's sovereignty rights and jurisdiction; jeopardized the security of Chinese people and facilities; violated international law and basic norms governing international relations; and undermined navigation freedom and safety in these waters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

On June 9, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the "joint activities" by the Philippines and Vietnam on one of China's Nansha Islands were a clumsy farce.

"We demand the Philippines and Vietnam stop stirring up quarrels and troubles, strictly abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and not complicate or spread the disputes," Hua said.

On July 15, China urged "countries outside the region" to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea after a U.S. official proposed that claimants freeze actions which could change the status-quo in the region.

"China has irrefutable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

"Regretfully, certain countries have strengthened their illegal presence through construction and increased arms buildup to infringe on China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights," Hong said, "to which the Chinese side is firmly opposed."

On Aug. 9, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China supports and advocates the "dual-track" approach in resolving the South China Sea issue.

Consultations and negotiations by countries directly concerned are the most effective and viable way to resolve disputes, which also conform to international law and common practices and constitute one of the most important provisions in the DOC, Wang stated.

On Dec. 11, China dismissed Vietnam's sovereignty claim for the Nansha and Xisha islands in the South China Sea, saying it is "illegal and invalid" and "China will never accept such claim."

"China urges Vietnam to earnestly respect our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and resolve relevant disputes regarding Nansha with China on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law so as to jointly maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 15Dec14]

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