Q: It is said that China has returned the Philippines' Notification on the submission of South China Sea issue to international Arbitration, please confirm.
A: China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is supported by abundant historical and legal evidence. Meanwhile, bearing in mind the larger interest of China-Philippines relations and regional peace and stability, China has remained committed to resolving the disputes through bilateral negotiations, and has made every effort to maintain stability and to promote regional cooperation in the South China Sea. To resolve the disputes through negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned is also the consensus between China and ASEAN countries as stipulated in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The Philippines' Note Verbale and the attached Notification not only runs counter to the consensus, but also contains many grave errors both in fact and in law, and includes many false accusations against China. China firmly opposes to this.
On Feb. 19, Ambassador of China to the Philippines Ma Keqing met with officials of Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, and stated that the Chinese side rejected and returned the Philippines' Note Verbale and the attached Notification.
The Chinese side hopes that the Philippine side keeps its word, not to take any action that magnifies and complicates the issue, responds positively to China's proposals on establishing a bilateral regular consultation mechanism on maritime issues, resumes the operation of the Confidence Building Measures Mechanism(CBMs) as established between the two countries, and reverts to the right track of settling the disputes through bilateral negotiations.