In a press conference last Friday, July 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry said the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) lied in Belgium about the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute:
Q: The Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario criticized China on the South China Sea issue when addressing an experts' roundtable in Belgium, arguing that the Philippines had exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement of its dispute with China and its last resort therefore was to utilize the legal track of international arbitration. What is China's comment?A: While resolutely safeguarding national territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China stays committed to solving territorial and maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation. China has repeatedly made clear its position on the Philippines' taking of the South China Sea issue to international arbitration. China's rejection of the Philippines' request for arbitration has a solid basis in international law. The Philippines' claim that "it had exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement of the dispute" is completely not true. China has repeatedly suggested to the Philippines that the two sides could resume the existing consultation mechanism or establish new ones. But we have not yet got any response from the Philippine side. The Philippines is keen on attacking China in international settings while unilaterally shutting the door for negotiation and consultation. Such practice is anything but helpful to solve the issue. China urges the Philippine side to change its wrong course, stop misleading public opinion and come back to the right track of solving the dispute through bilateral negotiation and consultation.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez on Monday, July 15, presented 8 facts to belie the statement made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying.
1. As we had previously stated on numerous occasions, the Philippines and China have been exchanging views on these disputes in attempts to achieve negotiated solutions since the first Philippines-China Bilateral Consultations on the South China Sea Issue were held in August 1995. However, despite more than 17 years of consultations, no progress has been made.
2. Since intrusions in the Bajo de Masinloc started in April 2012 alone, we have had nearly 50 consultations with China.
3. On maritime talks indicated by China in the ASEAN meetings in Brunei, we clarify that, in fact, the Philippines invited China to hold informal talks. This was held early last year, including a two-day session in Manila. Subsequent plans to meet further were overtaken by continuing intrusions by China, especially in Bajo de Masinloc since April last year.
4. We had all along been indicating publicly our 3-track approach of diplomatic, political, and legal tracks, including arbitration.
5. Prior to our filing of the arbitration case, in contradiction with China’s declaration in the ASEAN meetings in Brunei that we did not signal a possible Philippine arbitration track, we did invite China to join us in bringing the issue to a dispute settlement mechanism to resolve the issue on a long-term basis. This was officially communicated through a note verbale dated April 26, 2012. In its official response to our note verbale, China stated that our proposal was a 'none ground' issue and it urged the Philippines 'to refrain from any infringement on China’s territorial sovereignty.'
6. Prior to this, on various occasions, we had verbally invited China to join us in ITLOS. In fact, during the very first official visit of Secretary Albert F del Rosario to China in July 2011, he proposed to Chinese top leaders to jointly bring this issue to ITLOS for adjudication. During the visit, Secretary Del Rosario met at length with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi who subsequently brought the Secretary to meet with then Vice President Xi Jinping.
7. Secretary Albert F del Rosario visited Beijing 3 times with an invitation for the Chinese Foreign Minister to visit Manila for consultations. Up to now, we are awaiting a favorable response to our renewed invitations.
8. In all of these dialogues, China has consistently maintained its hard line position of ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, based on historical facts. The Chinese unequivocal message: Tanggapin ninyo na amin ang buong South China Sea bago tayo mag-usap. It has, therefore, become impossible to continue bilateral discussions on disputes in the West Philippine Sea with China on the basis of this rigid position. This led us to finally resort to arbitration under Annex VII of the UNCLOS.
China has rejected the arbitral proceedings initiated by the Philippines to resolve its territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).