China on Sunday again rejected an attempt by the Philippines to challenge its vast territorial claims over the South China Sea through international arbitration, a week before a deadline for Beijing to respond to the case.
China prefers to settle its disputes in discussions with the countries directly involved. But the Philippines has filed a case with a tribunal operating under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea, which provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world’s seas and oceans.
Xu Hong, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Treaty and Law, said the Philippines was “obstinately pushing forward arbitration procedures” and urged it to negotiate with Beijing instead. He told reporters that China was committed to rejecting and not participating in the arbitration proceedings.
The document released Sunday elaborates on China’s previous arguments that territorial sovereignty is beyond the scope of the tribunal. It said China’s rejection of arbitration is in line with international law and that China and the Philippines have previously agreed to settle territorial disputes through negotiations.
The Philippines filed the case in January 2013. The tribunal has invited China to respond by December 15. Xu said the publication of the paper was not linked to the deadline but had taken time to draw up.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, including waters and islands that the Philippines and four other Asian nations also say are theirs.