China, US, Japan React to Philippines' UNCLOS Case

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A few China links for the end of the week:

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has established an official webpage for the case of “The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China”—the arbitration case the Philippines has brought to challenge China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea. The page confirms that China has not appointed any agents to represent it in the case, but has maintained “its position that it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines.”

To make clear its displeasure over the move, China summoned the Philippine Ambassador to express its displeasure with the case. According to a Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told the Philippine Ambassador that ‘The Philippines’ action of forcing through the international arbitration will not help solve the South China Sea disputes between China and the Philippines, [and] will not change the fact that China owns sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.”

In support of China’s position, Xinhua published a barrage of articles slamming the arbitration case, carrying titles such as “The Philippines’ violation of international laws to end in vain” and “Manila’s wrong calculation.” People’s Daily joined in the fun with a piece called “Philippines push for arbitration to end in failure.”

Japan and the U.S., meanwhile, both offered support for the Philippines—unsurprisingly, as the U.S. and Philippines and allies, and Japan has its own concerns over Chinese territorial claims. In a regular press conference,  U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperon Marie Harf said that “the United States reaffirms its support for the exercise of peaceful means to resolve maritime disputes without fear of any form of retaliation, including intimidation or coercion.” She added, “We hope that this case serves to provide greater legal certainty and compliance with the international law of the sea.”

In Japan, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Secretary announced that “the Government of Japan supports the Philippines’ use of procedures under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea aiming at peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law, as such an action contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of the international order in the region based on the rule of law.”

Meanwhile, rumors that North Korea is considering another nuclear test are also ratcheting up tensions in Northeast Asia. In a press conference on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei emphasized China’s “clear-cut and firm” position towards “realizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, upholding peace and stability there and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation.” Hong urged all countries involved “to keep calm, exercise restraint and refrain from anything that may jeopardize peace and stability.”

The Global Times was much less circumspect, warning that should North Korea continue to develop its nuclear program “it will suffer long-term isolation by the international community and the country’s poverty will never be eliminated.” The article concluded, “North Korea has been in confrontation with the international community for 20 years, and it should seek a new path.”

Finally, The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog interviewed people on the streets of Beijing to try and find out what “the average Beijinger” thinks about Malaysia in the wake of the Flight 370 incident. While not everyone was critical of Malaysia, many of the people interviewed expressed a similar theme: that before Flight 370, they knew almost nothing about Malaysia, and that now they have a negative view of the country. However, around half of those interviewed (four out of nine) were also critical of China’s response to the incident, saying China should have mobilized more resources and spoken out more forcefully on behalf of its citizens.

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