China Blames Philippines for Straining Relations Over South China Sea Dispute

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says The Philippines’ legal case against Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea has tightened relations and it’s up to the Philippines to undo it.

“We do not want this knot to become tighter and tighter, so that it even becomes a dead knot,” Wang told reporters. “As for how to loosen or open the knot, (we’ll) have to look at the Philippines.”

An arbitration tribunal in The Hague ruled last month that it had jurisdiction to hear some of the Philippines’ territorial claims against Beijing.

China claims most of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway.

Chinese maps depict its proclaimed territory with a nine dash-line that stretches into parts of the Indonesian-held Natuna islands and Jakarta. Although Indonesia has kept a low-profile on the dispute, its security chief warned it could take China to the International Criminal Court if the issue is not solved through dialogue.

However, the ICC deals with war crimes. Luhut Panjaitan’s message to reporters could be interpreted as having been a reference to an international tribunal such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

China has boycotted legal proceedings and it rejects the Hague court’s authority in the case.

The Philippines filed the case to gather a ruling on its right to exploit waters in its 200-nautical mile EEZ as allowed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“China’s nine-dash line claim is expansive, excessive and has no basis under international law,” said the Philippines’ foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose. “If left unchallenged, we could lose about 80 percent of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).”

Next week, The Philippines will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, where the territorial issue is likely to come up despite Beijing’s wish to keep “sensitive political topics” out of the meeting..

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