HARARE, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday told visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming that Zimbabwe backed China on the South China Sea issue.
"President Mugabe has made it clear that he supports the position of the Chinese side on the South China Sea," Zhang told reporters after the meeting.
He said Zimbabwe is also firmly supporting China in settling the dispute through bilateral talks and peaceful negotiations.
Since 2013, the Philippines has been headstrong in bringing its maritime dispute with China to an international tribunal. It filed a compulsory arbitration against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with respect to the two sides' dispute.
China maintains that the tribunal handling of the arbitration proceedings has no jurisdiction over the case, which is in essence about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.
Territorial issues are beyond the scope of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and China has excluded maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration in a declaration it made in 2006 in accordance with Article 298 of UNCLOS.
China, therefore, has made it clear it will not accept or get involved in those proceedings.
"The so-called South China Sea issue is an issue between China and littoral countries of the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said earlier this month, adding that China has opposed the internationalization of the South China Sea issue from the very beginning.
According to China's foreign ministry, by mid-June this year, some 60 countries have announced their approval of China's stance.