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Taiwan will not accept court ruling on South China Sea disputes

2016/02/17 17:11:05

Taipei, Feb. 17 (CNA) The Republic of China will not accept an imminent ruling on the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

The ministry was responding to a call by U.S. President Barack Obama a day earlier that claimants to the disputed islands in the region should seek solutions through legal means and respect international law.

"Any disputes between claimants must be resolved peacefully through legal means such as the upcoming arbitration ruling under the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Seas, which the parties are obligated to respect and abide by," Obama said at a press conference held at the end of a meeting between the U.S. and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in California.

"The Republic of China cannot accept the ruling," since Taiwan was not invited to take part in the arbitration process, nor did the court solicit its opinions during the hearings, said the ministry.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2013 after Beijing refused to withdraw its ships from a disputed shoal under a U.S.-brokered deal.

On July 7, 2015, case hearings began with the Philippines asking the court to invalidate China's sovereignty claims. The hearings were also attended by observers from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The court is expected to hand down its ruling later in the year.

"As a responsible member of the international community, the ROC agrees with the principle that all concerned parties should respect the rules as stipulated by international law, avoid taking unilateral measures that would escalate tensions, and jointly safeguard freedom of navigation around and aviation over the South China Sea," the ministry said.

"All these are in line with the spirit and principles of the road map to the South China Sea Peace Initiative (as espoused by President Ma Ying-jeou)," it added.

Saying that it is regrettable that the ROC has been absent from the hearing process, the ministry said the court ruling should not in any way have any influence on the fact that the ROC owns the sovereignty of the South China Sea islands and is entitlement to the rights in the surrounding waters.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Bear Lee)
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