- Philippines filed arbitration case against China following the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff between Philippine authorities and Chinese surveillance ships
- Philippines’ claim is based on the UNCLOS provisions on EEZ while China’s historic rights claim is based on its 'nine-dash-line'
- China has no right to build islands on the Philippine’s EEZ as only the coastal state has the right to build artificial islands
To settle the dispute between the Philippines and China with regards to the disputed waters over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Philippines filed a case against China with the Arbitral Tribunal. Despite the fact that the Arbitral Tribunal is an internationally recognized body established to settle disputes between nations, China said that it will not abide by the decision of the tribunal.
The Philippines has long laid claim on the West Philippine Sea. Its claim is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defining a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as the area within 200-nautical miles from the baseline of the coastal state, to which the disputed areas belongs.
(photo credit: chinadailymail.com)
China, on the other hand, bases its claim on the “nine-dash-line,” which coincidentally exists only on the maps of China. The 'nine-dash-line' can be seen covering almost the entire South China Sea, claiming historic rights not only on areas that fall within Philippines’ EEZ, but also on those of other neighboring nations like Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The Philippines has made numerous attempts to settle the dispute with China diplomatically, however, such did not result into anything concrete.
What prompted the Philippine government to bring the whole matter to the Arbitral Tribunal was the 2012 standoff in Scarborough Shoal. Philippine authorities discovered Chinese vessels illegally poaching endangered Philippine marine species but they were prevented by Chinese surveillance ships from arresting the poachers.
Aside from the said standoff, China has been busily building artificial islands in the disputed areas. Following the principles enunciated in the UNCLOS, artificial islands are not recognized as “islands” and are not even allowed to have a territorial sea. It further stated that only coastal states have the right to build artificial islands in the EEZ.
(photo credit: nytimes.com)
The rich natural resources found in the disputed waters are what drew China towards the territory. Some of the resources in these areas are fish, marine life and oil. Aside from these, the area is a major shipping lane, making it important to the international community.
The five arbitrators handling the Philippines vs. China arbitration were Judge Thomas A. Mensah (President), Judge Stanislaw Pawlak, Judge Jean-Pierre Cot, Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum and Professor Alfred H. Soons.
Based on the recent decision released by the Arbitral Tribunal, the Philippines clearly won the case over China.
(photo credit: thediplomat.com)
In the statement it released to the media, China has no legal basis to claim historic rights over the resources within its 'nine-dash-line.'-SD, Kami Media