The ruling by an international tribunal rejecting China’s “historic rights” to islands in South China Sea has prompted New Delhi to renew its call for resolving maritime disputes through peaceful means, sans use of military force.
In response, China has asserted that it too wants to resolve the dispute by “fully complying” with the international law.
Reacting to the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, India has asked all parties involved in the South China Sea row to resolve the dispute through peaceful means without threat or use of force and “show utmost respect” to the verdict by a UN-backed tribunal.
“India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” said India’s external affairs ministry in a statement.
“India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement here.
“Sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” it said.
The verdict is seen in India as a vindication of India’s long-standing position on freedom of navigation and resolution of maritime disputes through UNCLOS. “The court has upheld India’s position on freedom of navigation. The ruling will benefit India economically as well as strategically,” Srikanth Kondapalli, an influential China-expert at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told India Writes Network.
India has cited the India-Bangladesh model to resolve maritime disputes. Two years ago, India accepted the International Court of Arbitration’s verdict on its maritime dispute with Bangladesh amicably even though it went against India’s territorial claims.
India has vital economic and strategic interests in the South China Sea as 55 per cent of India’s trade cargo passes through the SCS.
China says it’s “fully compliant”
Beijing’s response to New Delhi’s statement was cautiously defiant. “In those public statements made by relevant governments, if it is said that the dispute should be resolved by fully complying with the international law, I think it is the same with what Chinese government is upholding,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters. Mr Lu was responding to questions on New Delhi’s stance on the Hague court’s ruling on the South China Sea dispute.
Beijing has rejected the court’s ruling as “null and void.”
The case was initiated by the Philippines in 2013 over China’s territorial claims and building of reefs and islands in the region. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled that any historic rights to resources that China may have had were invalid if they are incompatible with exclusive economic zones established under a UN treaty.
The international court has underlined that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights” within the sea areas falling within China’s ‘nine-dash line’.
Beijing, which was anticipating a negative verdict, promptly rejected the ruling and rubbished it as a “null and void.”
China “solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
“China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards,” the ministry stressed. “China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.”
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