February 9th local time, the new U.S. Defense Secretary Austin talked to Philippines Defense Minister Lorenzana for the first time.
According to the minutes released by the U.S. Department of Defense, the two mentioned the South China Sea and an “invalid” ruling in the call.
The call summary said that Secretary Austin confirmed the commitment of the United States to the U.S.-Philippines military alliance and its commitment to the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Force Agreement, and emphasized the important value of this agreement to both countries.
In addition, the two defense ministers discussed regional security challenges, including the South China Sea issue, counter-terrorism operations and maritime security, and confirmed the importance of upholding international rules, including the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling.
U.S. media said that this ruling was made in response to the dispute between China and the Philippines over sovereignty over the South China Sea.
However, with regard to the ruling made by the arbitral tribunal for the South China Sea arbitration case established at the unilateral request of the Philippines on July 12, 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China solemnly stated on July 12, 2016 that the award was invalid, unrestrained, and China did not accept or recognize it.
China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are not affected by the arbitral award under any circumstances, and China opposes and does not accept any claims and actions based on the arbitral award.
The statement also said that the Chinese government reiterated that China does not accept any third-party dispute settlement method or any dispute resolution imposed on China on territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes.
The Chinese government will continue to follow the basic norms of international law and international relations recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, including respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes.
It will adhere to the settlement of disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation and consultation with the parties directly concerned on the basis of respect for historical facts and in accordance with international law. Protect peace and stability in the South China Sea.
In response to the South China Sea issue, Zhao Lijian, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also said recently that China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea have been formed in the long history process.
China has exercised effective jurisdiction over the relevant islands, reefs and related sea areas in the South China Sea for thousands of years.
China has never sought to establish a “marine empire” in the South China Sea. It has always treated the neighboring countries in the South China Sea equally, and always maintained maximum restraint in safeguarding the sovereignty and rights and interests of the South China Sea.
According to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea reached by China and ASEAN countries in 2002, China has always been committed to resolving disputes over territory and jurisdiction through negotiations and consultation with directly concerned sovereign countries, and to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea with ASEAN countries.
At present, with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable.