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Diplomacy key to resolving South China Sea dispute – not The Hague

In light of China’s claims to much of the South China Sea which have been dismissed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, GUE/NGL MEP Helmut Scholz has said that only diplomacy – and not a courthouse – can solve this long-running dispute between China and its maritime neighbours:

“The verdict of the Court of Arbitration in The Hague cannot replace international negotiations in order to solve the dispute over the South China Sea. This is evidently clear when taking into account the reactions of all the parties involved.”

“Given the current rhetoric and military rearmament in the region, it is abundantly clear that negotiations with all the littoral states must urgently begin.”

“The negotiations should focus on three areas: avoiding military confrontation; guaranteeing safety of passage; and emphasising mutually beneficial cooperation,” he added.

Scholz stressed that mutual respect and recognition by all sides are also essential in helping to resolve the dispute:

“China has shown its willingness to engage with its neighbours – others in the region should follow suit. After that verdict in The Hague, concrete action from both sides would speak louder than words.”

“The time has come for Beijing and Manila to work together through mutual cooperation and confidence building in a bid to end the territorial dispute.”

“As we have seen in common fisheries policies and closer co-operations on environmental protection and marine research, such an approach is entirely logical.”

“Mutual engagement can only help contribute to the strengthening of international law and, crucially, to help build on the foundations of bilateral and multilateral relationships which are based on lawful and objective policies,” Scholz concluded.