Under pressure after an international tribunal struck down its claim over the disputed South China Sea (SCS), China today welcomed President Vladimir Putin’s remarks that Russia supports Beijing’s stance on the issue and opposes any third-party interference. “China values President Putin’s position on the South China Sea issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said today.
“President Putin’s position shows Russia to be objective and fair, and represents the voices of justice from the international community,” Hua said. In fact, if a country is truly concerned about peace and stability in the SCS, it will support China to peacefully resolve the dispute with the countries directly concerned in accordance with international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC), she said.
She said that China also opposes any attempt by forces outside the region to manipulate the issue or stir up trouble, in an apparent reference to the US which has termed the verdict of the tribunal as legally binding. Talking to reporters after the G20 Summit in Chinese city Hangzhou, Putin said Russia supports China’s stance on the SCS issue and opposes any third-party interference.
“We stand in solidarity and support of China’s position on this issue – not to recognise the decision of this court. This is not a political position, but purely legal,” Putin was quoted as saying by Russia’s Sputnik news agency. China has rejected the decision questioning the legality of the tribunal. China is involved in a raging dispute with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei over ownership of territory in the SCS, a busy waterway through which India’s 50 per cent trade passes.
India and the US have been calling for freedom of passage in the international waters, much to the discomfort to Beijing, whose claim over SCS was recently struck down by the international tribunal in favour of the Philippines.