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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Philippines' Allegation that China's Construction on Maritime Features of the Nansha Islands Violates the DOC

Q: Charles Jose, the Spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines reportedly said in an interview that the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 can be taken as a "benchmark". The Philippines built the airport on Zhongye Dao before 2002. What they did afterwards is just maintenance and renovation of the airstrip. The Chinese side began its construction activities after 2002, and that is why the Philippine side regards China's land reclamation as a violation of the DOC. How does China respond to that?

A: The Chinese side has more than once enunciated its position on carrying out lawful, reasonable and justified construction activities on relevant maritime features of the Nansha Islands. I would like to make the following points with respect to the remarks by the Philippine side.

First, the Philippine side illegally seized some of the maritime features of China's Nansha Islands in the 1970s, which constitutes the crux and root cause of the disputes between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

The Philippine side has carried out massive construction on these islands and reefs for years, building military and civilian facilities such as airports, docks and barracks. Recent years have seen the Philippines' attempt to occupy China's Ren'ai Jiao by breaking its promise of towing away the illegally grounded military vessel and instead reinforcing it. In 2013, the Philippine side unilaterally initiated international arbitration on relevant disputes with China over the South China Sea in disregard of its commitment in the DOC and the existing consensus between China and the Philippines. Not long ago, the Philippines announced its restart of illegal construction activities on Zhongye Dao. Moreover, the Philippine side also obstructs the practical maritime cooperation among parties under the framework of the DOC, causes disturbances in the South China Sea and exerts itself to defame and smear China on regional and international occasions.

All that the Philippines has done is an obvious breach of the DOC. It tries to justify its illegal occupation and construction work prior to the signing of the DOC, while confesses the continuation of its illegal construction activities after the signing of the DOC. The flimsy excuse made by the Philippines backfires on itself.

Second, according to the basic principle of law "Ex injuria jus non oritur", the Chinese side does not recognize the "status quo" of Philippines' illegal occupation of relevant maritime features of the Nansha Islands, and opposes the unlawful construction carried out by the Philippines on maritime features of China's Nansha Islands. The Chinese side reaffirms that the Philippines must immediately stop relevant illegal construction activities, and withdraw all personnel and facilities from the islands and reefs of China.

Third, the DOC requires the observation of all parties concerned. While firmly upholding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, the Chinese side stays committed to resolving the relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation. That is in full compliance with the spirit and provisions of the DOC. Meanwhile, the Chinese side is devoted to fully and effectively implementing the DOC together with ASEAN countries, pressing ahead with maritime pragmatic cooperation and moving forward the consultation process of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). The Chinese side has never taken "activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability", nor will it do so in the future. However, it requires all parties' efforts to implement the DOC. The Chinese side urges the Philippine side to end the malicious hyping and provocation in no time, meet China and a majority of ASEAN countries halfway, and jointly uphold peace and stability of the South China Sea.

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