Sovereignty of China is ‘bottom line’
‘We cannot lose one centimeter of inheritance left by the ancestors,’ nation’s top diplomat says
China said on July 14 that it will respond resolutely if any party seeks to use the ruling in the unilaterally initiated arbitration on the South China Sea to harm China’s interests.
State Councilor Yang Jiechi said he expected the new Philippine government to properly handle the issue to “start a bright future for bilateral ties”.
“The sovereignty issue is China’s bottom line,” Yang, China’s top diplomat, said in an interview with Chinese media on the ruling.
“Though China is large, we cannot lose one centimeter of inheritance left by the ancestors,” Yang said.
He added that China is willing to discuss temporary arrangements with other countries involved on partnerships for development in the sea.
The ruling, issued after an arbitration process that was unilaterally initiated by the government of former Philippines president Benigno Aquino, will not influence China’s policy, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.
“We want to stress that if anyone wants to use the ruling to take any action that provokes China’s interests, the Chinese side will definitely respond resolutely,” he said.
The Philippine Foreign Ministry said in a statement on July 14 that its foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay, would raise the issue at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting summit, to be held on July 15 and July 16 in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
Premier Li Keqiang will attend the meeting.
The Philippines’ statement, which said the decision by the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague should be respected, was the strongest yet from Manila on the ruling.
Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said on July 11 that the ASEM summit was “not an appropriate venue” to discuss the South China Sea.