The United States refuted China’s claim that it was the “mastermind” behind the 2016 South China Sea arbitration case which was won by the Philippines at the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet said Beijing’s statement accusing Washington as the mastermind behind the arbitral case was preposterous.
“Any statement that somehow the US was putting a partner like the Philippines up to this is preposterous. Frankly, I think it’s an insult to the Philippines,” Chollet said in a briefing with select members of Philippine media.
“I want to underscore once again that the 2016 arbitral ruling, which we had just celebrated, is clear: it is legally binding and it is final,” he added.
Washington also denied that it is seeking conflict in the region.
“The United States does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion, and that’s a message that we have sent consistently. We will work closely and always stand by our allies and partners,” Chollet said.
Chollet concluded his three-day official visit to the Philippines reaffirming the Philippine-US ties.
The US official met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año to talk about strategies and partnerships in dealing with challenges in the region.
“It’s important for us to come here because the Philippines is our oldest ally in Southeast Asia. And there is nothing we can’t accomplish if we continue to work closely together,” Chollet said.
China: 2016 Arbitral Award is illegal, null, void
On the 7th anniversary of the arbitral ruling last July 12, the Chinese Embassy claimed that the Arbitral Tribunal gravely violated UNCLOS and general international law.
“The award is illegal, null and void. China does not accept or recognize it, and will never accept any claim or action based on the award. China’s sovereignty and relevant rights and interests in the South China Sea were established in the long course of history, and are solidly grounded in history and the law. This shall under no circumstances be affected by any illegal award,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.
“As the mastermind behind the South China Sea arbitration, the US ropes in allies to play up the issue each year on the anniversary of the illegal award to gang up against China and to exert pressure, and force China into accepting the award. We are firmly against this,” it added.
China also urged countries outside the region to stop using the South China Sea issue to drive a wedge between nations.
Source : CNN