The UN-backed arbitral tribunal hearing a lawsuit filed by the Philippines against China over the territorial disputes in the East Sea has set December 15 as the date for the latter to present its formal counterargument.

According to a statement issued by the tribunal based at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Netherlands , the body set the time although it on May 21 received a memorandum from Beijing that declares its refusal to accept the Philippines-initiated arbitration proceedings.

The five-member body said it is obliged to give each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case.

Last year, the Philippines submitted the case to the tribunal with a nearly 4,000-page document, including legal arguments and evidence against China ’s nine-dash line which covers almost all of the East Sea . The claim is deemed unlawful and invalid under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The country resorted to international arbitration after its negotiations with China for addressing the disputes peacefully failed.-VNA