China has made it clear the only way forward in resolving the South China Sea dispute is through bilateral talks. It warned the Philippines that it does not accept or recognise any decision that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to make on 12 July over who has legitimate rights over the disputed waters.
The ruling in the case brought by the Philippines against China is expected to favour Manila, local reports said. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims with Beijing over the waters which has one of the world's busiest trade routes.
Beijing's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei told a news conference on 6 July: "China will never accept nor recognise whatever ruling the arbitral tribunal may produce. And China does not accept any proposal or action by any country based on the ruling."
He reiterated: "The arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and is not in a position to make any wilful comment."
He said that "bilateral and friendly dialogue and consultation is the only right and viable way " to resolve the dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea territory.
In a strongly worded message, Hong slammed the previous Philippines leader Aquino for filing a case at the arbitration court. "The South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Philippine Aquino administration is illegal, null and void from the onset."
He also made it clear that China will not accept any proposal or action by any country based on the ruling of the arbitration court.
Hong, in acknowledging Philippine's new President Rodrigo Duterte's conciliatory message that he was willing to talk to China over the dispute, said: "We hope that the new Philippine government will work in unison with us, veer away from the wrong path taken by the former government, return to the right track of having dialogue and consultation with China."
Duterte had said that his country would not use force and gave the assurance that the court's decision would be accepted, whichever way it went. "We are not prepared to go to war - war is a dirty word."
Hong also reiterated China's rights to the disputed waters, he said that China's historic rights in the South China Sea are formed along the course of history and are "solidly founded on historical and jurisprudential grounds.
China has adamantly refused to participate in the case. According to South China Morning Post, it has been hard at work rallying support from other countries. So far 48 nations and more than 130 political parties and associations have offered at least partial support to Beijing's position.
The then Philippines' Benigo Aquino-led government filed a case against Beijing in early 2013, saying that after 17 years of talks, it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute. The case has taken 3 years, two hearings and nearly 4,000 pages of evidence, according to thee Rappler.com.