The tussle over the South China Sea between China and Australia has now "officially" reached the level of a Twitter flame war: the two countries' ambassadors to India have traded barbs over social media. On Friday, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong tweeted that he'd noted the Australian envoy's remark on South China Sea.
Weidong wrote that China's territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests are in conformity with international law, including the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). “It's clear who safeguard peace and stability, and who destablise and provoke escalation in the region,” the ambassador underscored.
Noted remarks by Australian HC to India on #SouthChinaSea disregarding facts. #China's territorial sovereignty & maritime rights&interests are in conformity w/ int'l law incl UNCLOS. It's clear who safeguard peace&stability & who destablize&provoke escalation in the region.— Sun Weidong (@China_Amb_India) July 31, 2020
While expressing serious concern over actions in the South China Sea, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O' Farell on Thursday underscored that steps taken by China are destabilising and “could provoke escalation”. Last week, Australia launched a note with the UN Secretary General, rejecting China’s “unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea".
However, on Friday, following Wedong's tweet, Farell took to Twitter and asked China to recognise the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award.
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. https://t.co/1w2nrcrxhr— Barry O’Farrell AO (@AusHCIndia) July 31, 2020
On 12 July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China has "no historical rights" based on the "nine-dash line" map. The Tribunal had considered that the waters of the South China Sea beyond the territorial sea were legally part of the high seas, in which vessels from any state could freely navigate and fish.
While the US, Australia and other countries oppose China's maritime and territorial claims, Beijing considers the Spratly archipelago to be part of its territory.