A day after an international tribunal ruled out China's 'historical' claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea and areas around it, President Xi Jinping said China's "territorial sovereignty and marine rights" in the seas will not be affected by the verdict, reported BBC.
The office of Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin also refuted the verdict and said China has the right to set up an air defence zone in that region if the security of the country is threatened. Such a zone makes it mandatory for all aircraft passing through it to follow certain rules.
China also issued a white paper asserting its claims over the South China Sea and accused Philippines, which had filed the petition, of occupying Chinese territory. The 13,900-word document states that Philippines had “distorted facts, misinterpreted laws and concocted a pack of lies” in order to undermine Chinese interests, reported The Guardian.
On Tuesday, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague accused China of breaching Philippines' sovereign rights by exploring resources near Reed Bank. The matter was brought to the notice of the arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by Philippines in 2013. The country had contested the legality of Chinese activity in the South China Sea region and alleged that Chinese claims of sovereignty were against international laws.
Several rival countries – China, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei – have been fighting over this resource-rich territory for years. China has claimed nearly 90% of the territory that is defined by the nine-dash line and also issued a map to back its claims.
The matter became a global issue after the United States had sent military ships and planes near the disputed islands to ensure access to key shipping and air routes. Both China and the US have accused each other of militarising the South China Sea.