China is firm, refuses int'l arbitration over territorial row

China still refuses to face international arbitration with the Philippines over hotly contested territories in the West Philippine Sea.

A post in a state-regulated Chinese news portal China.org.cn said Beijing is instead pushing for dispute settlement with Manila through bilateral talks.

"China disagrees with moves that go against the consensus (reached before)," the post quoted China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying.

Hong was referring to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by members of the ASEAN, including the Philippines, in 2002.

Related story: PH buying Korean fighter jets

Under the declaration, relevant disputes should be solved through friendly talks and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.

The Chinese spokesman meanwhile urged the Philippines to adhere to its commitment under the declaration.

The statement comes at the heels of a meeting between Philippine officials and U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce Tuesday.

Royce, speaking after the meeting, had urged China to face the Philippines before the United Nations arbitration tribunal.

The Philippines on Jan. 22 elevated the territorial spat between China before an arbitration tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Related story: PH says US to protect it in South China Sea

This, as Foreign Affairs Chief Albert del Rosario noted that the Philippines "has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement."

Del Rosario added that China's claim is "contrary to UNCLOS and thus unlawful" as it "encompasses virtually the entire South China Sea/West Philippine Sea."

Related slideshow: Territorial row with China

Graphic showing contending claims in the South China Sea. APEC giants China and Japan, along with South Korea, Russia and others are embroiled in various disputes that have fanned nationalist flames
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AFP News
Sun, Sep 9, 2012 9:55 AM PHT

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