Australia: We will stand against China to defend the rule of law

CANBERRA, Australia – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is standing firm after China issued a formal protest about her comments on an international court ruling on the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concluded this week that China had no historic claim to the waters and it had violated the Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights.

China rejected the ruling, having declined to participate in the case, saying the court had no jurisdiction.

Ms Bishop urged all South China Sea claimants to resolve their disputes peacefully, saying Australia would keep exercising its international rights to freedom of navigation and overflight, and support the right of others to do the same.

She also told ABC radio that China’s reputation would suffer as a result of the court ruling, insisting relations with the international community were crucial to its rise as a superpower.

“To ignore it would be a serious international transgression,” she said.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had formally protested against Australia’s “wrong remarks”, and that China hopes Australia does nothing to harm regional peace and stability.

“Honestly speaking, I’m a bit shocked at Bishop’s comments,” Mr Lu said.

Australia should join the majority of the international community in not taking the result of the “illegal outcome” of the case as international law.

“We hope that Australia can set more store by international law, and not treat it as a game,” Mr Lu added, repeating that China respected freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law.

In response to his comments, Ms Bishop issued statement on Thursday night reiterating that Australia “continues to exercise its legal right of freedom of navigation and overflight,” and supporting the right of other countries to do the same.

“Australia stands with the international community in calling for both sides to treat the arbitral ruling as final and binding,” she said.