China on Wednesday escalated its condemnation of the ruling by a UN-backed tribunal that struck down its “historical rights” over the South China Sea, issuing a “white paper” that asserted its claims over the strategic region and accused the Philippines of illegally occupying its territory.
The White Paper said the core of the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lies in the territorial issues caused by the Philippines’ invasion and illegal occupation, starting in the 1970s, of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands).
“The Philippines has concocted many excuses to cover up this fact, and to pursue its territorial pretensions,” said the document, titled ‘China Adheres to the Position of Settling Through Negotiation the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.’
The Philippines’ relevant claim is groundless from the perspectives of either history or international law, said the white paper issued by the State Council Information Office.
The document asserted that China has claims over the South China Sea for 2,000 years and the Philippines, which had filed the petition before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, was occupying Chinese territory.
It attacked the Philippines for turning “a blind eye to bilateral consensus”, saying Manila has repeatedly taken moves that complicate the relevant disputes, gradually intensified them between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
In a major diplomatic blow to China, the tribunal working under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) struck down the Communist giant’s claims in the strategic waters on Tuesday.
The Hague-based court said China violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights. It said China has caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment” by building artificial islands.
China has often accused the US for fomenting trouble in the South China Sea, through which USD 3 trillion of trade passes annually and where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have rival claims to the waters.
The white paper said with the development of the international law of the sea, a maritime delimitation dispute also arose between China and the Philippines regarding certain maritime areas of the South China Sea.
The Philippines built military facilities on some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands/Spratly islands) it invaded and illegally occupied and deliberately destroyed survey markers set up by China, it said adding that Manila attempted to illegally occupy China’s Ren’ai Jiao by using a military vessel illegally run around it.