SINGAPORE, July 18 (Xinhua) — International law cannot help solve complicated political issues such as disputes over the South China Sea, said Professor Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

     "On the contrary, such disputes can only be negotiated based on the strong political will from the respective governments involved, " Zheng stated.

     Professor Zheng made the remarks at a keynote speech during the Think Tank Seminar on South China Sea and Regional Cooperation and Development, being held here on Monday.

     The ad hoc tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration, which was unilaterally initiated by the Aquino III administration,  issued its final ruling on July 12.

     With regards to this, Professor Zheng said that many legal experts simply proposed the question as a legal issue, yet from a perspective of international relations, the law has never effectively solved the problem of international disputes.

     "The South China Sea issue is very complex one dating back thousands of years. However, the UNCLOS is quite contemporary, personally I strongly doubt whether such a contemporary international law can solve this age-old problem," the professor said.

     "Without the political will of the relevant parties, the problem is difficult to solve."

     Zheng went on to say the arbitration will change nothing in terms of the status quo, but put everything back zero.

     "China can return to the path of putting aside differences in the name of joint exploration," Zheng said.

     He also echoed Zhao Qizheng, the former minister of China's State Council Information Office, who also made a speech at the seminar, saying that the South China Sea should become a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.

     "The only way to solve the problem is to return to political means. I'm still very confident about the overall stability of the South China Sea," Zheng concluded.