An international arbitration panel says it has jurisdiction to take on a dispute between the Philippines and China over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Permanent Court of Arbitration says the case revolves around underlying rights and entitlements and "the status of certain maritime features" in the South China Sea.

The court, which conducts its arbitration hearings behind closed doors, says the Philippines has stressed it is not asking arbitrators "to decide the question of sovereignty over maritime features in the South China Sea that are claimed by both the Philippines and China" or rule on maritime boundaries in the region.

China insists the panel has no jurisdiction and has said it won't participate in any arbitration.