China Reacts Cautiously to India’s View on South China Sea Verdict
Protesters hold placards as they join in a protest rally to denounce China’s military buildup in the South China Sea,  metro Manila on 25 February, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
Protesters hold placards as they join in a protest rally to denounce China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, metro Manila on 25 February, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

China Reacts Cautiously to India’s View on South China Sea Verdict

Reacting guardedly to India’s statement on the strategic South China Sea verdict by a UN-backed tribunal, China on Wednesday said it too wants to resolve the dispute by “fully complying” with the international law.

Reacting to questions on India’s External Affairs Ministry statement, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said:

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.

New Delhi’s Reaction

India is smiling about The Hague’s verdict of arbitration over the South China Sea (SCS).

The Hague-based tribunal on Tuesday struck down China’s claims of “historical rights” over 90 percent SCS and ruled that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’”, which is based on a Chinese map dating back to the 1940s.

The verdict is especially satisfying for New Delhi because of the recent disappointment over China thwarting India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Earlier, India’s External Affairs Ministry in a statement had asked all parties involved in the South China Sea row to resolve the maritime dispute through peaceful means without threat or use of force and “show utmost respect” to the verdict by Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

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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 (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans.
External Affairs Ministry’s Statement

A Times of India report quotes Dr Mohan Malik, professor of Asian security in Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies Hawaii, who believes that the verdict will be beneficial for India, along with the Philippines.

“The verdict is a welcome development for India’s economic (especially oil exploration in the South China Sea off Vietnam) and strategic interests. It provides legal and diplomatic cover for increased Indian naval engagement with other south-east Asian countries,” he said.

He also said that the decision could improve India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership and weaken China’s power to oppose it.

On Tuesday China made it clear that it “neither accepts nor recognises” the ruling, as reported by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in Beijing.

While it’s a sweet verdict for India, Pakistan on Tuesday backed China, saying Islamabad opposes any imposition of “unilateral will” on others.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan believes in resolving the SCS dispute through negotiations.

The US, on the the other hand, urged all parties involved in the dispute to accept the tribunal’s ruling, adding that it’s “final and legally binding.”

“The decision today by the Tribunal in the Philippines-China arbitration is an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

(With inputs from PTI and The Times of India.)

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