China has rejected the latest arbitration tribunal ruling over its South China Sea dispute with the Philippines, saying it will not take part in the case.

The tribunal in The Hague gave Beijing until December 15, 2013 to respond to the Philippines' case, allowing "each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case," the tribunal said in a statement.

China has maintained it has no intention of taking part in the arbitration process, favouring a bilateral approach.

"China's stance of not accepting and not participating in the relevant Philippines' arbitration case has not changed," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

China is engaged in a number of maritime disputes in the South China Sea, most of which it claims for itself. Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines claim parts of the energy-rich waters, while China claims almost all of the sea for itself.

The Philippines wants to confirm its right to exploit the potentially energy-rich waters within a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as allowed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, according to Manila's lawyers.

"We continue to urge China to reconsider its decision not to participate in the arbitration proceedings," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose.

"We also wish to reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, open and friendly resolution mechanism that offers a durable solution to the disputes in the South China Sea," he added.

The move comes after China and Vietnam became embroiled in a territorial spat in another part of the South China Sea last month. Thousands of Vietnamese rampaged against what they thought were Chinese businesses in protest after China deployed a massive oil rig in disputed waters.