China refuses to drop S China Sea claims, says pending UN tribunal decision ‘illegal’
"Those who expect that the arbitration could compel China to yield or make it an accomplished fact are doomed to be disillusioned. The arbitration is illegal and invalid whatever it will be. China will reject and will never acknowledge it," Hong Lei noted on Friday, speaking at a regular press briefing, as cited by Reuters.
The remarks were made in response to reports that the UN tribunal is to render its final decision in the coming weeks. The verdict is expected to turn out against China since Beijing shrugged off the case throwing into question its legality, saying that its falls outside the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea jurisdiction.
Hong Lei also said that China will safeguard its territorial sovereignty while complying with the international law and maintaining the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS.
“China is rock-firm in safeguarding the international rule of law and the integrity and sanctity of UNCLOS,” the spokesperson told journalists.
Speaking of attempts to put pressure on China, another Foreign Ministry official, Ouyang Yujing, compared China to a spring that will bounce back with the same or even greater force if too much pressure is applied.
“If they are aimed at putting pressure on China or blackening its name, then you can view it like a spring, which has an applied force and a counterforce. The more the pressure, the greater the reaction,” he said, probably hinting at the military installations Beijing has already erected on the disputed islands.
The Philippines and China have engaged into a debate over the Scarborough Shoal, located a bit more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China.
“The core of the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines is that the latter is attempting to harm China's interests in the Nansha Islands. China firmly opposes a certain country's taking hostage the international rule of law for its own selfish gains. They are violating the law under the guise of the 'rule of law,' and China won't accept any of these acts,” Ouyang said.
China lays claims to the largest part of the territory in question, defined as “nine-dash line,” saying its right to the area roots in history when all those regions belonged to the Chinese nation.
The countries involved in the dispute are The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan at all costs trying to challenge Beijing’s assertions.