[JURIST] Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua [official website] said Monday that the country would not participate in Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) [official website] hearings [PCA press release] over a territory dispute with the Philippines. At issue are a number of islands and shoals in the South China Sea, that the Philippines says China has annexed illegally under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [text]. But China has long held that the PCA lacks jurisdiction [government whitepaper] to hear the case, saying that it would be open to bilateral negotiations [AP report ] with the Philippines over the issue. When it convenes on Tuesday, PCA will first consider whether it does have jurisdiction to consider the arbitration.
China has often been criticized for their extreme reactions against actions considered threats to the administration. In March, the Chinese government ignored [JURIST report] pleas from the international community to release five detained women’s rights activists under the banner of protecting against interference of China’s judicial system. In April, a Chinese court sentenced [JURIST report] a 71-year old journalist to seven years in prison for “leaking state secrets” to foreign contacts. In May, a prominent human rights lawyer was officially indicted [JURIST report] on charges of fanning ethnic hatred and provoking trouble after a year of detention, as a result of comments posted online.In June, China’s ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang was found guilty [JURIST report] of bribery, abuse of power and intentionally disclosing national secrets was sentenced to life imprisonment, and was deprived of his political rights for life, and had personal assets confiscated. Earlier this month, China passed a new national security law [JURIST report] which increases cyber security powers and provides the possibility of establishing efficient crisis management systems. The law will increase overseeing of the internet in China and authorities will now take tougher measures against cyber attacks, thefts and the spread of harmful information.