The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in Netherlands handed down this Tuesday, July 12 its ruling on the Philippines vs China case over the claims of South China Sea. The Hague tribunal announced that China has no legal basis to claim resources on the disputed area, and finally ended the three-year case filed by Philippines against China.
According to the PCA press release, the five-member international tribunal noted there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the nine-dash line (formerly 11-dash line) in South China Sea. This is despite the fact that Chinese fishermen and navigators have already made use of the disputed islands and its resources.
“All of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands (including, for example, Itu Aba, Thitu, West York Island, Spratly Island, North-East Cay, South-West Cay) are legally “rocks” that do not generate an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf.” The PCA added, emphasizing that China violated has no right to claim any part of the Spratly Islands.
The PCA ruling noted that China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.” The arbitration court added that Chinese law enforcement vessels had put the lives of Filipino fishermen at risk.
Must Read: * China to Arrest and Jail Filipino Fishermen Caught ‘Illegal’ Fishing in Disputed South China Sea
Based on the timeline of events of this issue, Philippines served notification and Statement of Claims to China on January 23, 2013, but China rejected it on February 13, 2013. The first PCA meeting regarding the case was held on July 13, 2013. On August 1, 2013, China announced its non acceptance of the international arbitration court’s decision.
Shortly ahead of the announcement of the PCA ruling, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency angrily described the arbitration court as a “law-abusing tribunal”, noting that the decision is “ill-founded award” and will be considered as null and void. Nevertheless, Philippines thru Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. has already issued its official statement on this matter.
Must Read: * Official Statement of Former President Noynoy Aquino on PCA South China Sea Ruling (Full Text)
“The Philippines welcomes the issuance today, 12 July 2016, of the Award by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the arbitration proceedings initiated by the Philippines with regard to the South China Sea.
Our experts are studying the Award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves. In the meantime, we call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.
The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea. The decision upholds international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.
The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts to pursue the peaceful resolution and management of disputes with a view to promoting and enhancing peace and stability in the region.”