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Chinese and Australian envoys to India spar over South China Sea

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New Delhi, July 31: The envoys of China and Australia to India have sparred on social media over the South China Sea and claims made by China on those waters.

On Thursday, O'Farrell said Australia remains deeply concerned by Chinese actions in the South China Sea that are "destabilising and could provoke escalation". The resource-rich South China Sea is also an important shipping route.

Sun Weidong

In a tweet later, Sun took objection to the Australian diplomat's remarks and said they were made "disregarding facts".

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    O'Farrell, in his strong response, reminded the Chinese envoy about the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016, that rejected China's claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea region.

    "Thank you @China_Amb_India. I would hope then you follow the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award which is final and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from actions that unilaterally alter the status quo," the Australian high commissioner tweeted.

    In its verdict, the international tribunal, constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) said that China had violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines by carrying out certain activities in the South China Sea.

    The Philippines had approached the tribunal arguing that China's territorial claims in the region is unlawful.

    China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea, a huge source of hydrocarbons. However, several countries in the region including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei have competing claims.

    In the last few weeks, China has increased its military assertiveness in South China Sea when the entire world is battling the coronavirus pandemic.

    Following Chinese actions, the US sent military ships near the disputed islands, and called Beijing's claim over the region illegal.

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