MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ top diplomat has criticized China’s rejection of Manila’s offer to bring their South China Sea territorial disputes to a U.N. tribunal.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that such a position will prevent Beijing from proving its South China Sea claim on the basis of internationally accepted law.

China-Philippines spat, Albert del Rosario, Yanch Jiechi

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Pic: AP.

On Tuesday, China rejected a Philippine proposal to bring their dispute over the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. It reiterated its long-held position to solve its disputes through bilateral negotiations with Manila and four other claimants.

The Spratlys are claimed in their entirety or partly by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.