BEIJING: In the wake of the international tribunal rejecting its claims in the disputed South China Sea, China on Friday said that the issue of sovereignty was the nation’s “bottom line” and the country “cannot loose one centimetre” of the area it claims.
“The sovereignty issue is China’s bottom line,” China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi said.
“Though China is large, we cannot lose one centimetre of inheritance left by the ancestors,” said Yang who is the State Coun-cillor, a rank higher than Foreign Minister, while commenting on the ongoing row over the verdict delivered by an international arbitral tribunal which quashed Beijing’s claims of historic rights over the South China Sea.
Yang’s comments also carry significance for India as he is China’s designated Special Representative for boundary talks along with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
India and China have so far held 19 rounds of talks to resolve the boundary dispute. At the centre of the dispute is China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh which it regards as part of southern Tibet.
China regards the boundary issue as a legacy from history and refuses to recognise the McMahon Line as the effective boundary between the two countries.
While both sides in recent years managed to reduce tensions between troops patrolling disputed areas with various dialogue mechanisms, China has not responded positively to India’s proposal to demarcate the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) to avoid border tensions.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei counter China’s claims in the resource-rich waterway as it falls in their own Exclusive Economic Zones.