China warns Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop over comments on South China Sea

By @chelean on
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at AUSMIN meeting
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks during a joint news conference with Australian Defence Minister David Johnston, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (not pictured) at the conclusion of the AUSMIN meeting at Admiralty House in Sydney August 12, 2014. Reuters/Jason Reed

Australia’s stance on the disputed South China Sea has riled China. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was warned by the Asian giant to take a “fair and impartial” standpoint on the issue after Australia said it recognised the Philippines’ right to seek arbitration.

Bishop said Australia would wait for the outcome of the arbitration, which China vehemently denies to recognise. Although she cleared that the country is not taking sides on the two Asian nations’ claims, Beijing sees this as such.

“We recognise the Philippines’ right to seek to resolve the matter through arbitration, but we urge all claimants to settle their disputes peacefully without coercion, without intimidation,” she said in Japan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said Australia should “adopt an objective and unbiased attitude,” warning the country to “refrain from doing anything that undermines regional peace and stability.”

“The Philippines’ unilateral initiation of international arbitration, which does not comply with international law and runs counter to the consensus reached between China and the Philippines as well as relevant provisions of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, will never be accepted by China,” Hong said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“The Australian side should not selectively evade that objective fact.”

The Philippines has challenged China at an arbitration court in The Hague over South China Sea, which China claims based on its debated territorial marker. Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also lay claim to the region. China refuses to take part in the arbitration, saying it would never recognise the Permanent Court of Arbitration proceedings.

It has reclaimed more than 2,900 acres of land since 2013, and is carrying more construction of artificial islands in the disputed waters. The country claimed its deploying of national defence facilities is exercising its right to self-preservation and defence. Bishop said in Tokyo that she would ask Beijing whether it would allow access to the islands and their facilities.