THE HAGUE, Aug. 29 -- "The arbitration request initiated by the Philippines concerning the dispute of the South China sea has no legal ground", Huang Huikang, a senior Chinese diplomat, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Thursday.
Huang, director-general of the Treaty and Law Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who is now visiting The Hague for the centennial anniversary of Peace Palace, attended as the special representative of the Chinese Foreign Minister the Ministerial Conference of "Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes".
Huang stated that China's refusal of the arbitration request by the Philippines is well founded on and strictly in accordance with international law.
As the legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Huang explained that, according to international law, especially the principle of the law of the sea that "Land dominates the Sea", the determination of territorial sovereignty is the precondition for, and the basis of, maritime delimitation.
Claims for arbitration raised by the Philippines are essentially concerned with maritime delimitation in the South China Sea, which inevitably involves sovereignty of relevant islands and reefs, and such issues of territorial sovereignty are not the ones concerning the interpretation or application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
According to Huang, what the Philippines tries to do is to mix up those two things, which is obviously contrary to the purpose and content of the UNCLOS, and they will achieve nothing.
"The core issue of the South China Sea dispute between China and the Philippines is the illegal occupation by the Philippines of some islands and reefs of the China's Nansha islands", Huang emphasized.
"Therefore, there is no legal basis for the Philippines to raise such claims. And China's refusal has full legal ground."
He continued, "While the territorial disputes concerning those islands and reefs are still pending, the compulsory dispute settlement procedures as contained in the UNCLOS should not apply."
"Moreover, back in 2006, the Chinese government made a declaration in pursuance of UNCLOS, excluding disputes regarding such matters as those related to maritime delimitation from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures, including arbitration."
"This declaration is legitimate, public and effective, which deserves due respect. By refusing the Philippines' arbitration request, China is exercising its legitimate right, as an embodiment of the rule of law," Huang added.
He further pointed out that, in the interests of maintaining the Sino-Philippine relations and peace and stability in the South China Sea, China has been persistent in pursuing bilateral negotiations and consultations with the Philippines to resolve relevant disputes.
"It is the commitment undertaken by all signatories, including the Philippines, under the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) that disputes relating to territorial and maritime rights and interests be resolved through negotiations and consultations by sovereign states directly concerned." Huang stressed.
He said "DOC should be implemented in a comprehensive and earnest manner."