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12 Jul, 2016 14:29

‘Ill-founded, farcical’: Beijing blasts South China Sea ruling, vows to defend its interests

China has gone ballistic over The Hague Tribunal's rejection of claims to “historic rights” in the South China Sea in a case brought by the Philippines. Beijing called the verdict “ill-founded,” warning its armed forces would defend its maritime interests.

President Xi Jinping has acknowledged that China is dedicated to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, but will accept no actions based on the outcome of the arbitration case, Reuters reported.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the arbitration case put the dispute into hot water of an escalating confrontation, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The Defense Ministry has also stated that the ruling will not affect China’s sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea. Although the ruling is binding, the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no powers of enforcement.

“No matter what kind of ruling is to be made, the Chinese military will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests, unwaveringly safeguard regional peace and stability and deal with all kinds of threats and challenges," Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND), said in a statement.

Beijing has boycotted the hearings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration and repeatedly warned that it would not recognize any adverse ruling from The Hague’s arbitration court.

Xinhua said on Tuesday that the "law-abusing tribunal," hearing the case, had issued an "ill-founded award." 

The court said in the 497-page ruling on that “There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line',” referring to a demarcation line on a map of the sea from 1947.

The dispute over the South China Sea involves the Spratly and the Paracel Islands. Beijing’s territorial claims to the islands partly overlap those of the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, while Beijing also has ongoing territorial disputes in the area with Malaysia and Brunei.

To bolster its claims over the disputed territory, Beijing has been busy setting up defense installations in the area, calling Washington’s involvement in the dispute the “greatest” threat to the region.

The US Navy has been fiercely opposed to this Chinese initiative and has deployed additional warships in the disputed zone. Conducting maneuvers near China’s artificial islands, it said its moves are innocent and in the interest of “freedom of navigation.”

After the Tribunal's Tuesday ruling, the United States called on all parties to comply with the court ruling and avoid “provocative actions.”

"The decision today by the Tribunal in the Philippines-China arbitration is an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, according to Reuters.

"The United States expresses its hope and expectation that both parties will comply with their obligations," he added. "In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions."

Meanwhile, followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo have been up in arms over the Tribunal's ruling and Washington's role in the dispute.

According to Emily Siu, RT's correspondent in China, comments ranged from dead serious - “The Philippines and the US are disgusting” and “Watch out how the US and Japan will react, China will turn G20 into G18!” - to slightly sarсastic - “We can’t give up the South China Sea, who knows how much delicious seafood lives down there!” and “Fine, we don’t want bananas or mangoes from you anymore, Philippines.”

The ruling is “completely irrelevant,”“illegal,” and “non-binding,” Victor Gao, director of the China National Association of International Studies, told RT.

He believes that “the United States was very much involved in this arbitration case brought by the Philippines… trying to put pressure on China.”

“China will stand firm on the matter of principle and China will also use all military resources to make sure that the US will not win this battle against China,” Gao said.