China should respect ruling on S China Sea: India

China should respect ruling on S China Sea: India

Beijing has called verdict of tribunal 'illegal, null and void'

China should respect ruling on S China Sea: India

India on Tuesday disapproved China’s rejection of the ruling of an international tribunal on the South China Sea dispute.

New Delhi called upon Beijing to show “utmost respect” to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), an international pact, which the arbitration process on the South China Sea was based on.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement after the arbitral tribunal based in The Hague ruled that China had no legal basis to its historic claims in the South China Sea and it had violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines by constructing artificial islands.

China was quick to reject the ruling, arguing that the arbitration process had been unilaterally initiated by the Philippines and had been “illegal, null and void” right from the beginning.

New Delhi, however, pointed out that the arbitral tribunal had been constituted under Annex VII of the UNCLOS.

“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,” said Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the MEA.

He also noted that the sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea were “critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development”.

“India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS,” Swarup said, adding, “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.”

Beijing last week indicated that it would expect New Delhi’s reaction to the award of the arbitral tribunal to be consistent to the position of Russia, India and China as enunciated in the joint statement issued after the meeting of the foreign ministers of the three nations in Moscow on April 18 last.

The RIC (Russia-India-China) foreign ministers had agreed that all maritime disputes, including the row over South China Sea, should be addressed “through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned”.

The statement had been in sync with China’s position on the dispute. India, however, had earlier joined the US and Japan to call for “peaceful settlement” of maritime disputes in accordance with international laws and maintenance of “freedom of navigation and over-flight and unimpeded lawful commerce” through sea-lanes in the disputed waters.

The reference to the dispute in the past India-US and India-Japan joint statements irked China. The latest India-US joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with American President Barack Obama in Washington DC early last month, however, had no mention of the South China Sea dispute.

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