Beijing: China has dismissed Vietnam's sovereignty claim on the disputed islands in the South China Sea, saying it is "illegal and invalid" and Beijing "will never accept such claim."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comment later yesterday after Vietnam's foreign ministry said Hanoi held sovereignty over the Spraley and Paracel islands which China calls Nansha and Xisha islands.
Vietnam objected to China's stance of the nine-dash line claiming most part of the South China Sea.
Vietnam stated its position to the Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea Arbitration initiated by the Philippines under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS).
China refused to join the arbitration, saying the dispute should be resolved directly by the parties concerned.
The tribunal has given time till December 15 for China to respond to Philippines petition.
While Philippines took the dispute to international arbitration, China-Vietnam had a major crisis in May this year when Beijing pressed in an oil rig in the disputed islands leading to anti-China riots in Vietnam in which two Chinese workers were killed and over a 100 injured.
China pulled out over 7000 workers from Vietnam for safety. Later, the two countries patched up and agreed to normalise the relations with high level visits.
Hong said China holds indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the surrounding waters while the Xisha Islands have been China's inherent territory, without any dispute on this.
In 1948, the Chinese government published an official map that displayed the dotted line in the South China Sea.
China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea formed and evolved over a long course of history. They are solidly grounded in history and law and have been continuously upheld by the Chinese Government, Hong said.
The nine-dash line takes in about 80 percent of the 3.5 million square km of the South China Sea on Chinese maps.
This boundary was first officially published on a map in 1948 and has been included in subsequent maps issued after 1949, state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Besides Philippines and Vietnam, China's claim over South China Sea is hotly contested by Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
"China urges Vietnam to earnestly respect our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and resolve relevant disputes regarding Nansha with China on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law so as to jointly maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea," Hong said.
The Chinese Government publishes a Position Paper on December 7 to elaborate on the legal basis for China's position that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction in this case claiming that China's position not to accept or participate in the proceedings stands on solid ground in international law.
Hong said China's stance on the arbitration will not change.