The Tribunal is Not a UN Body And Violates the Spirit of the UN Charter
--Chinese Embassy Refutes the Financial Times On South China Sea
2016/07/26

The following is a letter from Mr. Zhu Haiquan, Press Counselor and Spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. to the editorial page of the Financial Times, in response to the FT report "UN hands rebuke to Beijing over South China Sea territorial claims" and editorial "A big test for Beijing over the South China Sea" on July 13th, 2016:

The tribunal on South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines is not a UN body and does not represent the position of the UN. Both the UN and the UN International Court of Justice have made clear statements on this matter. In fact, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary General has pointed out "the UN doesn't have a position on the legal and procedural merits of the case or on the disputed claims".

The tribunal only acts with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a distinct institution from the UN. Unlike the UN, which operates with an independent budget, the tribunal asks parties to pay for the arbitration. In this case, the Philippines paid.

The UN Charter calls for developing friendly relations among its members, and the UNCLOS starts itself with an appeal for a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation. The UN has always called for negotiations among parties to solve disputes in the South China Sea. A large number of UN member states also support China's position.

Regrettably, the former government of the Philippines rejected this option. It unilaterally initiated an arbitration that violated its own commitment on bilateral negotiations and the premise of a state's consent in international arbitration. This runs contrary to the spirit of the UN Charter. The tribunal, by willfully expanding its jurisdiction, has set a dangerous precedent in international law, opened the door for abusive arbitration procedures, undermined the motivation of countries to engage in negotiations and consultations for solving disputes, and potentially intensify conflicts and confrontation in the region.

The so-called ruling has no authority and credibility at all. By not recognizing or accepting it, China not only defends its own legitimate rights, but also safeguards the principles of the UN Charter and the true spirit of international law.

The Financial Times refused to publish this letter though admitted the letter is "factually correct". In the past months, there have been four letters on the issue of South China Sea from Chinese embassy published on the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

 

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