Wednesday, 13 July 2016

UN tribunal on South China Sea ruling

Update 7 Aug 2016: China warns PM Lee over South China Sea

An opinion piece was published on the Global Times, cautioning PM Lee Hsien Loong with regard to what he said during his recent official state visit to US. The Global Times is a daily Chinese newspaper published by the People’s Daily news group, which is the biggest newspaper group in China. This news group comes directly under the purview of the Chinese Communist Party.

News published by the group frequently provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Chinese government. The Global Times was created to focus on international issues from the Chinese government’s perspective. As such, opinion pieces featured in Global Times carry considerable weight in representing the position of the Chinese government.

The piece published on 4 Aug, started by saying that President Obama had given PM Lee a grand reception, usually reserved for leaders of big countries and American allies.

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China should seize opportunity to reshape South China Sea order

After a series of visits by leaders of ASEAN states to China, China and ASEAN have found common agreement to prioritize economic cooperation and move forward. A golden opportunity has emerged: It is high time for China and its rival claimants in ASEAN to make major progress in the South China Sea disputes.

It's reported that officials and scholars from countries related to the South China Sea issue have met recently to discuss trust-building mechanisms, including nailing down the Code of Conduct, reshaping South China Sea order and the feasibility of joint cooperation on areas including anti-terror, climate change and protecting biodiversity.

US President-elect Trump's aggressive posturing against China has generated a lot of uncertainties in many respects, South China Sea disputes included, which have just quieted down after the tricky and stormy international arbitration process in July.

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Caught between a reef and a hard place, Manila’s South China Sea victory runs aground

The Philippines may have won an emphatic legal victory over China in the South China Sea, but the aptly named Mischief Reef shows just how hard it will be for Manila to make its triumph count in the strategic waterway.

Chinese construction on the reef, which began two decades ago as a few rickety shelters perched on stilts, now covers an area larger than 500 football fields. It includes a 3 km (9,800 feet) runway, extensive housing, parade grounds and radar nests, satellite images show.

According to Tuesday’s landmark ruling, however, the reef and everything on it legally belongs to the Philippines and no amount of time or building will change that.


China sticks to two-way talks by relevant parties in solving South China Sea disputes
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, July 14, 2016. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

ULAN BATOR, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The South China Sea issue should be solved through bilateral negotiations by relevant parties on the basis of historical facts and in accordance with international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Thursday.

Li made the remarks while meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The two leaders will attend the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, which will be held in Ulan Bator from July 15 to 16.

The Chinese premier called on Vietnam to value the hard-won momentum in the development of bilateral relations and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea with China.



Top diplomat's rebuff on arbitration

State Councilor Yang Jiechi reiterated the so-called arbitration was illegal, invalid and against international law.
"By unilaterally initiating arbitration, the Philippine government under Aquino has gone against its long-standing bilateral agreement with China that disputes in the South China Sea shall be settled through negotiation, violated the DOC signed in 2002 by China and ASEAN countries, the Philippines included, and breached international law and UNCLOS. Hence, this arbitration has been illegal since the very beginning. It cannot be seen as an application of international law."
He said the sea area under China's jurisdiction is what Chinese ancestors have left to the nation. The country's determination to protect it will never change.
"The Chinese people will neither covet other countries' interests, nor feel envy at their development achievements. We'll also never give up our legitimate interests. No one can expect China to make deals with its core interests or endure actions detrimental to its sovereignty, security and development. The Chinese government and the people will stay together and do whatever it takes to defend every single inch of our territory."
Yang Jiechi said the arbitration has been a political farce all along, staged under the cover of law and driven by a hidden agenda.


Hague Award More Sour than Sweet for New Zealand

The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague award rejecting China’s claim of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea should be of serious concern to New Zealand.

China seeks global respectability but snubs this international body’s findings based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Over $5 trillion in international trade passes through this region.

Given our membership on the UN Security Council the Prime Minister needs to use plain “Kiwi speak” to bamboo power.


South China Sea dispute: Oil and shipping markets on edge after ruling

Global oil and shipping markets have reacted nervously to this week's ruling by the international arbitration court which rejected Beijing's claims to large swaths of the South China Sea.

A tribunal in The Hague found China had breached the sovereign rights of the Philippines and had no legal basis to its historic claims in the South China Sea, a major shipping lane between China and Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The ruling will be seen as a victory by other regional claimants such the Philippines and Vietnam, but with China rejecting the ruling and saying its military would defend its sovereign rights, nerves were on edge.


Beijing South China Sea claims rejected by court
China has accelerated construction on some disputed reefs

The Permanent Court of Arbitration said there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources. China called the ruling "ill-founded" and says it will not be bound by it.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by others.

The tribunal in The Hague said China had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights. It also said China had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment" by building artificial islands.

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China damns international court after South China Sea slapdown
Beijing claims the Philippines concocted a ‘pack of lies’ in order to undermine its interests in the South China Sea

Beijing has lashed out against an international court’s stinging rejection of its territorial claims in the South China Sea, with Communist party controlled newspapers warning of a military escalation in response to what they denounced as a United States ploy to thwart China’s rise.

One day after a UN tribunal ruled overwhelmingly against Chinese claims to huge swaths of the strategically important waterway, Beijing rebuffed the verdict, calling it “a piece of paper that is destined to come to naught”.

In a 13,900-word white paper, Beijing claimed the Philippines, which brought the case, had “distorted facts, misinterpreted laws and concocted a pack of lies” in order to undermine Chinese interests.

related:


South China Sea ruling shows the the problem with international courts
Don't like a ruling form the Justices at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague? Just ignore it

After a landmark ruling against China's historical claims over the South China Sea, Beijing followed Tuesday in the tradition of other big nations when they lose such cases: ignore the decision.

Put the word "international" in front of a court, tribunal or panel, and the effect is frequently to sap judges of their power. Many nations from Russia to the United States to Britain have disregarded international rulings at some point. And, unlike China, the United States has not even ratified the Law of the Sea Convention, which underpinned Tuesday's ruling, so Washington could not be held accountable in a similar way.

There are mixed consequences when countries disregard rulings such as Tuesday's determinations by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. But the biggest one is a hit against a country's global reputation. China's leaders probably figure they can weather it.


Taiwan's President vows to defend sovereignty over Taiping Island
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on board the frigate which set-off on a patrol mission to the South China Sea. (Photo: Taiwan's Military News Agency)

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Wednesday (Jul 13) to defend the island’s sovereignty over Taiping Island before dispatching a frigate on a patrol mission to the South China Sea.

The patrol mission comes a day earlier than scheduled after the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague ruled that Taiping Island and other features in the Spratly archipelago are legally “rocks” which are not entitled to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

“The award of the South China Sea arbitration, especially its definition of Taiping Island, has seriously infringed our territorial claims and rights over islands in the South China Sea.


UN Arbitration Court Rules Against China in South China Sea Dispute
Protesters release balloons as they display placards as while chanting anti-China slogans during a rally by different activist groups over the South China Sea disputes, along a bay in metro Manila, Philippines, July 12, 2016

In a landmark ruling, the United Nations's arbitration court is dismissing China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it has "no historic title" to the vast maritime region.

Tuesday's ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration answers a complaint brought by the Philippines in 2013, which accused Beijing of violating the U.N.'s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) with its aggressive actions on the Scarborough Shoal, a reef located about 225 kilometers off the Philippine coast.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration said Beijing's claim of virtual sovereignty over nearly all the South China Sea under a so-called "nine-dash line" that stretches from the southern China coast runs contrary to UNCLOS, which sets a country's maritime boundaries 12 nautical miles from its coast, and control over economic activities up to 200 nautical miles from its coast. 

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UN tribunal rules against China in sea dispute
Demonstrators in Manila chant anti-China slogans during a rally on Tuesday over the South China Sea dispute © Reuters

A UN tribunal has ruled that there is “no legal basis” for China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea, handing the Philippines a dramatic victory in its almost four-year court dispute with Beijing.

The ruling constitutes a sharp rebuke to China’s claim to 85 per cent of the South China Sea, demarcated by the “nine-dash line” on Chinese maps.

The 4m sq km sea is crossed by ships carrying $5tn worth of cargo every year and also has large energy reserves, including an estimated 11bn barrels of oil and 190tn cubic feet of natural gas.

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Hague Tribunal Rejects Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea
A member of the Chinese Coast Guard ordering a boat to leave the area of Scarborough Shoal, seen as green water in the background, in June. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

An international tribunal in The Hague delivered a sweeping rebuke on Tuesday of China’s behavior in the South China Sea, from the construction of artificial islands to interference with fishing, and ruled that its expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

The tribunal also said that Beijing had violated international law by “causing severe harm to the coral reef environment” and by failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered sea turtles and other species “on a substantial scale.”

The landmark case, brought by the Philippines, was seen as an important crossroads in China’s rise as a global power. It is the first time the Chinese government has been summoned before the international justice system, and neighboring countries have hoped that the outcome will provide a model for negotiating with Beijing or for challenging its assertive tactics in the region.

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Beijing’s claims to South China Sea rejected by international tribunal
Crew members of China's South Sea Fleet taking part in a drill in the Xisha Islands, or the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in May. (Str/AFP/Getty Images)

An international tribunal has ruled that China does not have historic rights to justify its expansive claims to the South China Sea, in a major blow to Beijing.

China has repeatedly made it clear it will not accept, recognize nor implement Tuesday’s ruling on the South China Sea, the hotly contested waterway that contains some of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

But the verdict, which came in strongly in favor of the Philippines and against China, will nevertheless undermine its claim to sovereignty under the nine-dash line which it draws around most of the South China Sea.

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Hague tribunal rules China's South China Sea claims unfounded
Demonstrators chant anti-China slogans during a rally over the South China Sea disputes by different activist groups, outside the Chinese Consulate in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 12, 2016

Judges at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday rejected China's claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China Sea in a ruling that will be claimed as a victory by the Philippines.

"There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the 'nine-dash line'," the court said, referring to a demarcation line on a 1947 map of the sea, which is rich in energy, mineral and fishing resources.

In the 497-page ruling, judges also found that Chinese law enforcement patrols had risked colliding with Philippine fishing vessels in parts of the sea and caused irreparable damage to coral reefs with construction work.

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Tribunal says China has no historic title over South China Sea
Demonstrators chant anti-China slogans during a rally over the South China Sea disputes by different activist groups, outside the Chinese Consulate in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 12, 2016

An arbitration court ruled on Tuesday that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and that it has breached the sovereign rights of the Philippines with its actions there, a long-awaited ruling sure to infuriate Beijing.

China, which has boycotted the hearings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, vowed again to ignore the ruling and said its armed forces would defend its sovereignty and maritime interests.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency said shortly before the ruling was announced that a Chinese civilian aircraft successfully carried out calibration tests on two new airports in the disputed Spratly Islands.

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Full text of statement of China's Foreign Ministry on award of South China Sea arbitration initiated by Philippines

Following is the full text of the Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on the Award of 12 July 2016 of the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration Established at the Request of the Republic of the Philippines issued on Tuesday.

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China on the Award of 12 July 2016 of the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration Established at the Request of the Republic of the Philippines

With regard to the award rendered on 12 July 2016 by the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration established at the unilateral request of the Republic of the Philippines (hereinafter referred to as the "Arbitral Tribunal"), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it.

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Ill-founded award on South China Sea arbitration draws worldwide criticism

THE HAGUE, July 12 (Xinhua) -- An arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea rendered ruling on Tuesday, resulting in a deluge of criticism from China and other countries.

The 479-page award issued by a five-member tribunal is sweepingly in favor of the claims filed by the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, which unilaterally lodged the arbitration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a meeting with visiting European leaders on Tuesday, said that China will not accept the award, and that China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea will under no circumstances be affected 


Hague ruling: China rebuked at least six times

IF CHINA held any hopes that its “nine-dash line” argument claiming most of the South China Sea would hold up, they were dashed earlier today. The Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) delivered a stinging rebuke to China, which had refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the PCA and had stayed out of the arbitration process initiated by the Philippines. This is despite both countries being signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which sets out the boundaries of the territorial seas of nations, as well as the management of marine resources. 

The Philippines had made 15 submissions to the Hague, accusing China of violating the convention by, among others, “[failing] to prevent its nationals and vessels from exploiting the living resources”, “unlawfully [preventing] Philippine fishermen from pursuing their livelihoods”, “causing serious risk of collision to Philippine vessels”, and other actions in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and China are in a tussle over jurisdiction of seven reefs, and more importantly, the waters surrounding them. Although China declined to participate, the tribunal went ahead to assess the Philippines claims, taking into account China’s own position on those claims as articulated in the past.



Beijing angrily rejects Hague ruling on South China Sea
Chinese paramilitary police officers secure the entrance of the Philippine embassy in Beijing: The road to the mission was closed off by authorities although the situation remained calm. Photograph: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Beijing issued a swift and irate response to a ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague in favour of the Philippines on China’s claims over disputed territory in the South China Sea, saying the findings were “null and void”.

President Xi Jinping said China would not accept any proposition or action based on the decision by the tribunal, state media reported.

“China has always been a guardian of international rule of law and of fairness and justice, and will always adhere to the path of peaceful development,” Mr Xi said after meeting European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Beijing.


South China Sea tribunal ruling "politicized": Syrian analysts

The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague against China's right in the South China Sea territories is "politicized," analysts here said on Tuesday.

"The decision taken by the tribunal in the Hague is politicized and has deliberately overlooked the historic facts about China's sovereign right over the South China Sea territory," Omar al-Mekdad, a Syrian expert in the Chinese affairs, told Xinhua.

Earlier in the day, an arbitration tribunal in The Hague rejected China's claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China Sea, ruling in favor of the Philippines in that maritime dispute. China rejected the ruling, branding it as null, void and a farce.



Ongoing escalations in the South and East China Seas has some analysts daring to wonder who would win a war
China’s military base on Woody Island. Picture: StratforSource:Supplied

A LINE in the sand was crossed in February this year. Satellite photographs revealed China had stationed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, one of dozens of specks in the sea that have become the focus of increasingly tense territorial disputes.

Beijing insisted it only did so in response to recent US ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises in the South China Sea.

Either way, it represents a serious military escalation in the tit-for-tat game of diplomatic brinkmanship being played out to Australia’s north.


What next in the dispute over the South China Sea?

A judgment was handed down today by an international tribunal that could have far-reaching effects in Asia. It began as a dispute between China and the Philippines over a huge expanse of the South China Sea, and China’s assertion of control there in waters claimed by many countries.

The area is a major fishing, trade and energy production corridor. And, today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China.

For more on this dispute, on the case, and its implications, I’m joined by Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


Decoding the Jargon of the South China Sea Dispute

An international Court issues its ruling Tuesday on a challenge brought by the Philippines to China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea.

The report by the tribunal in The Hague—which will decide on at least seven of 15 Philippine submissions—is likely to be filled with jargon related to maritime disputes. To help you prepare, here is a glossary of the key terms and acronyms:
  • ASEAN - The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • EEZ - States may claim an "exclusive economic zone" of up to 200 nautical miles around their territory.
  • FONOP - The U.S. conducts so-called freedom of navigation operations.
  • Island - A naturally formed land mass that’s above water at high tide and can sustain human habitation.
  • Itu Aba - The largest natural feature in the Spratlys and occupied by Taiwan.
  • Low-tide elevation - A feature exposed at low tide but submerged at high tide. It doesn’t generate a territorial sea.
  • Nine-dash line - China’s claim is based a dashed line drawn on a 1940s map.
  • Observers - Countries allowed to send representatives to the tribunal’s closed-door hearings on the case.
  • PCA - The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
  • Rock - A feature that’s above water at high tide but can’t sustain human habitation or economic life.
  • Spratly Islands - More than 100 small islands and reefs set in rich fishing grounds and potentially sitting on oil-and-gas deposits.
  • Scarborough Shoal - China seized the shoal from the Philippines in 2012.
  • Territorial sea - The 12-nautical mile territorial belt measured from the baseline of a coastal state.
  • UNCLOS - The treaty that has since 1994 defined the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to the world’s oceans.
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A world of opinions on the South China Sea ahead of Hague court ruling on China-Philippines case

A case brought by U.S. ally the Philippines against China represents a diplomatic dilemma for far-flung nations. Ahead of a ruling Tuesday, Washington and Beijing have rallied support for their respective positions on the use of international arbitration in South China Sea disputes.

The United States has been building diplomatic pressure in the West and in Asia on China to abide by the decision by a tribunal in The Hague. China, which maintains it won’t be bound by the ruling, has been pushing back by building support from nations mostly in Africa and the Middle East.

The U.S. is not a party to the South China Sea territorial disputes, nor to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which the tribunal has been formed, but says it wants China to play by international rules. Since there is no enforcement mechanism for the ruling, any impact will depend on how the international community reacts.

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U.S. atlas published in 1994 shows South China Sea islands part of Chinese territory
The 1994 revised edition of the Illustrated Atlas of The World, published by the Chicago-based Rand McNally, clearly shows that Huangyan Dao, Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands fall under China's jurisdiction, according to Chia-Chi Tsui, a retired Chinese-American professor, July 8, 2016. (Xinhua/Huang Hexun)

An atlas published in 1994 by a renowned U.S. map publisher clearly illustrated that Huangyan Dao and other key islands involved in the South China Sea dispute are part of China's territory.


The 1994 revised edition of the Illustrated Atlas of The World, published by the Chicago-based Rand McNally, clearly shows that Huangyan Dao, Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands fall under China's jurisdiction, Chia-Chi Tsui, a retired Chinese-American professor, told Xinhua on Friday.


The Illustrated Atlas of The World is published by one of the most recognized names in American map publishing. The atlas shows clearly that Huangyan Dao is out of the Philippine borderline as the island, which the Philippines calls Scarborough Shoal, is located to the west of the 118 degrees east longitude -- the western limit of Philippine territory, said Tsui, owner of the atlas.


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Two law experts in Britain question arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction over South China Sea dispute
An aerial photo taken on Sept. 25, 2015 from a seaplane of Hainan Maritime Safety Administration shows cruise vessel Haixun 1103 heading to the Yacheng 13-1 drilling rig during a patrol in south China Sea. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)

Two leading experts on international law in Britain have recently published two research papers, both concluding that an arbitral tribunal which allowed the South China Sea case initiated by the Philippines against China to go ahead is not convincing in many respects.


Antonios Tzanakopoulos, associate professor of public international law at the University of Oxford, and Chris Whomersley, a former deputy legal adviser to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, were the experts.


JURISDICTION QUESTIONABLE - In 2013, the Philippines unilaterally filed compulsory arbitration against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague with respect to the two sides' dispute in the South China Sea.


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China’s position paper on the South China Sea arbitration

On 22 January 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines presented a note verbale to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Philippines, stating that the Philippines submitted a Notification and Statement of Claim in order to initiate compulsory arbitration proceedings under Article 287 and Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“Convention”) with respect to the dispute with China over “maritime jurisdiction” in the South China Sea. On 19 February 2013, the Chinese Government rejected and returned the Philippines’ note verbale together with the attached Notification and Statement of Claim. The Chinese Government has subsequently reiterated that it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration thus initiated by the Philippines.

This Position Paper is intended to demonstrate that the arbitral tribunal established at the request of the Philippines for the present arbitration (“Arbitral Tribunal”) does not have jurisdiction over this case. It does not express any position on the substantive issues related to the subject-matter of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines. No acceptance by China is signified in this Position Paper of the views or claims advanced by the Philippines, whether or not they are referred to herein. Nor shall this Position Paper be regarded as China’s acceptance of or participation in this arbitration.

This Position Paper will elaborate on the following positions:
  • The essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the Convention and does not concern the interpretation or application of the Convention;
  • China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations. By unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has breached its obligation under international law;
  • Even assuming, arguendo, that the subject-matter of the arbitration were concerned with the interpretation or application of the Convention, that subject-matter would constitute an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries, thus falling within the scope of the declaration filed by China in 2006 in accordance with the Convention, which excludes, inter alia, disputes concerning maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration and other compulsory dispute settlement procedures;
  • Consequently, the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction over the present arbitration. Based on the foregoing positions and by virtue of the freedom of every State to choose the means of dispute settlement, China’s rejection of and non-participation in the present arbitration stand on solid ground in international law.
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Why China won't accept the South China Sea ruling

The Hague tribunal in the much-discussed South China Sea arbitration case between China and the Philippines has notified the world that it will issue a final verdict on July 12. Many Western countries seem to think they already know the result of the arbitration — that China will lose. They have already started urging China to accept the ruling. But Beijing's position is clear: no acceptance, no participation, no recognition, and no implementation. There is solid international legal basis for China to oppose this case. And by doing so, China is not only safeguarding its national interests, but also protecting the integrity and legitimacy of the international maritime order.

Why does China refuse to accept and participate in the proceedings of this tribunal, being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague? Because China, as a sovereign state, is entitled to choose its preferred means of dispute resolution — a legitimate right under international law.

Moreover, the Philippines' case is inherently flawed and illegitimated by such irregularities as the country's abuse of the dispute settlement procedures, its distortion of concepts, and its deliberate disguise of the real nature of the disputes.

related: The South China Sea ruling explained

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South China Sea arbitration abuses international law: Chinese scholar

Arbitration on the South China Sea initiated unilaterally by the Philippines is a possible abuse of international law, Cai Congyan, international law professor at Xiamen University and visiting scholar at Humboldt University told Xinhua here in a recent interview.

Cai said: "The Philippines' unilateral request for arbitration on the South China Sea could be deemed as abuse of international law, at least not in good faith."

He said China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines have signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 that includes a dispute settlement mechanism. However, the Philippines did not fully utilize the mechanism in accordance with the Declaration.

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U.S. should stop treating South China Sea as next Caribbean

The United States should stay away from the South China Sea issue and avoid repeating its history of military intervention and political manipulation in the Caribbean in the past century.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague will announce its award on Tuesday in an arbitration case filed unilaterally by the Philippines against China on disputes over the South China Sea. Looking back at the drama, it's not difficult to see that the United States has played an important role in disturbing the once peaceful waters since it adopted a "pivot to Asia" strategy.

And it's not the first time for the nation to do so. Having been regarding Latin America as its backyard, the United States has never stopped making waves in the Caribbean.

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South China Sea tribunal ‘outstepping mandate’: Chinese analysts


An international court is due to deliver a hotly-anticipated ruling in the Philippines’ case against China over the South China Sea on Tuesday (Jul 12). Where once the focus was on physical dominance over the area, the ruling could be framed as a test of Beijing’s respect for international law.

In 2013, the Philippines lodged a case with a tribunal in The Hague against China, saying that after 17 years of negotiations, it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute. However Beijing insists that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the issue and has boycotted the proceedings.

Chinese analysts, echoing Beijing's stance, have said the Permanent Court of Arbitration - based in The Hague - is overstepping its legal mandate.

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Former Foreign Officials Voice Support for China


A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague was scheduled to announce its so-called final decision over the Philippines-initiated South China Sea case later today.

Some retired former officials, including those from the Philippines and the United States, are suggesting the issue should be settled peacefully by the two sides themselves.

Alberto Encomienda worked for ten years as the secretary-general of the Maritimes and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department.

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Beijing slams U.S. ahead of S. China Sea ruling


A defiant China has warned the U.S. not to apply the Monroe doctrine in the South China Sea—hours before an international arbitration panel is to deliver its ruling, sought by the Philippines, on Beijing’s maritime claims in these waters.

A Sunday commentary in Xinhua pointed out that the decision to drag Beijing to court was not about legality but, instead, a backdoor attempt by the U.S. to extend its geopolitical dominance in the Asia-Pacific.

The commentary warned that the U.S. should not confuse the South China Sea with the Caribbean, where its dominance has been repeatedly implanted by military force. On Tuesday, The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to deliver its ruling on a case lodged by Manila in 2013.

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UN tribunal to make South China Sea ruling


A United Nations tribunal is set to give a long-awaited ruling, with implications for China's controversial claims in the disputed South China Sea. The case at the tribunal in The Hague was brought by the Philippines, which argues Chinese activity in the region is against international law.

China claims about 90% of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by others. China says it does not recognise the tribunal and has refused to take part. The case is being decided by an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both countries have signed.

The ruling is binding but the tribunal has no powers of enforcement.

related:
China's Island Factory
Mysteries and maritime claims
Why is the South China Sea contentious?
Flying close to China's new islands
Rivalries underneath the South China Sea


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What is the UN tribunal impact of its ruling?

According to Bill Hayton, author of South China Sea: The struggle for power in Asia, a large part of the case is about asking the court to decide what specific land features in the area are, and therefore how much claim to territory each country has.
  • Low-tide elevations, or reefs, which are visible only at low tide, get no territorial waters,
  • Rocks, which are defined as anything above water at high tide regardless of size, get a 12-nautical mile limit of water around them
  • An island, which is able to “sustain human habitation or an economic life of its own”, is given a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around it.
Therefore, if the tribunal rules that nothing that China occupies in the Spratly Islands is a proper island, it will be unable to claim land rights of 200 nautical miles.

Media captionThe BBC’s John Sudworth went to track down the famed 600-year-old book. Although the ruling is binding, the UN tribunal has no powers of enforcement. However, the ruling could set a precedent for similar cases in future.

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South China Sea showdown?


On July 12, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will issue its ruling on China’s claim to practically all of the South China Sea. And already the main military contenders are moving more forces into the region.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration announced that Chinese naval and air forces will carry out seven days of exercises in an area extending from Hainan to the Paracel Islands off the Vietnamese coast. The exercises will end on July 11, just one day before the tribunal’s ruling is released, so they will still be around if things get more exciting after that.

They might well get more exciting, because the U.S. Navy’s Task Force 70, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, has now moved into the South China Sea. Its task, according to its commander, Rear-Admiral John D. Alexander, is “to maintain the seas open for all to use.”

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South China Sea dispute: what you need to know about The Hague court ruling

An international tribunal is set to rule on a centuries-old maritime dispute between the Philippines and China on Tuesday. The court’s findings could call into question Beijing’s wider claims to the South China Sea and spark a potentially destabilising reaction from China.

Why is that important? Control of the South China Sea is the most contentious and explosive diplomatic issue in east Asia, with China asserting sovereignty over maritime areas that span 3.5m square kilometres but are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Japan. Washington has become deeply involved, backing those against China and conducting military patrols.

Although the case was raised by the Philippines, it will affect all these countries as it questions the legality of China’s “nine-dash line”, a dotted marker in Chinese maps stretching hundreds of miles south and east from the mainland.

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Philippines hopes Hague will knock down China's territorial claims
PHOTO: Chinese soldiers patrol in the Spratly Islands, near a sign saying the land is "sacred and inviolable". (Reuters)

A landmark ruling in The Hague could effectively knock down China's territorial claim to the South China Sea, including its myriad of islands, atolls, reefs and shoals.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration is today due to hand down its decision on a case brought by the Philippines in 2013 under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The South China Sea covers 3.5 million square kilometres of water and stretches between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

related:
'It's our territory': What's at stake in the South China Sea ruling
Canoe protesters defy Chinese warships in the South China Sea


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China on war footing
LIVE FIRE The Chinese missile frigate Yuncheng launches an antiship missile during a military exercise in the waters between China’s Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands. The drills are held ahead of the ruling in the case filed by the Philippines at a UN arbitral tribunal in The Hague. The photo was released on Friday by Xinhua News Agency. Xinhua via AP

China has begun military drills in the South China Sea, state media reported on Saturday ahead of a ruling by an international arbitration court on a dispute with the Philippines over the strategic waters.


The Navy on Friday carried out “combat exercises” with “live missiles” between the Paracels and the southern Chinese island of Hainan, the PLA Daily, the military’s official newspaper, said on its website.


State television CCTV broadcast imags of fighter aircraft and ships firing missiles, helicopters taking off and submarines surfacing.


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Will China and the US be at war next week? Beijing set to defy Hague ultimatum

China and the US are on a collision course over the disputed South China Sea

A long-running legal battle between China and the Philippines will conclude on Tuesday, July 12, when the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration delivers its verdict over the so-called "Nine-Dash Line" - a key shipping route in the South China Sea.


The decision comes three years after the Philippines brought its case to tribunal, with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also laying claims to overlapping areas of the ocean.


China claims virtually all of the resource-rich sea as it's own, and has continued with an aggressive building programme of military ports, artificial runways and fortresses, despite international condemnation.


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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming gives interview to Reuters on the South China Sea


Our position had been reaffirmed by the statement just issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding this arbitration initiated by the Philippines: China will not participate in the arbitration. From day one, China strongly opposed this arbitration case. We believe it is illegal for a tribunal to handle this case:

  • First of all, the Philippine's arbitration case is against UNCLOS, because sovereignty and territorial disputes are not under the jurisdiction of UNCLOS.
  • Secondly, Philippine's case is also related to maritime delimitation. China, like 30 other countries, made a declaration in 2006, that China will not take part in third party arbitration when it comes to maritime delimitation. UK is one of the 30 countries. UNCLOS provides that sovereign countries have their sovereign right to make these declarations on optional exceptions.
  • Thirdly, China has always been calling for bilateral consultation and negotiations with neighboring countries, including the Philippines, when it comes to maritime disputes. And a series of documents can show that the Philippines agrees to this practice. There are a series of statements between China and the Philippines on how to resolve disputes. It was until 2013 when they submitted this arbitration case. In our view, the Philippines have turned their back on their promise and that is against international practice. Once agreed, you have to follow your commitment. It is also part of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) reached by China and the ASEAN countries that disputes should be resolved by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned. The Philippines agreed to it but turned their back on it.
  • Fourthly, this arbitration, according to UNCLOS, is only a supplementary means to resolve disputes. Bilateral channel is regarded as the main means to resolve a dispute between countries. The Philippines had never come to China to talk about this arbitration. And China and the Philippines had never had serious negotiations on this subject back then. That means the main channel had never been used, to say nothing about being exhausted before the Philippines went to arbitration. That is against the spirit of UNCLOS.
So we have many reasons to oppose this arbitration case. We also hold the position that if this arbitration goes through, it will set a very bad example. That concern has been expressed not only by Chinese legal experts, but also by British and Dutch experts on the Law of the Sea. China's position has been supported and appreciated by many countries and international organizations, many legal experts, not only in China, in Asia, but also in Europe and America. That is our basic position. 

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US scheming to deny China’s nine-dashed line of South China Sea


The nine-dashed line was first discovered and owned by China. It is a maritime boundary line formed after China’s long-term jurisdiction and development of the South China Sea islands. 

China holds sovereignty and jurisdiction rights within the nine-dashed line. Other countries’ ships have the right to freedom of navigation and their aircraft enjoy rights to fly over the territory. 


There had been no problem with the nine-dashed line before the 1970s, but with Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries pushing further territorial claims, more governments are beginning to deny legitimacy of the nine-dashed line. 


related: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China


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US urges respect for South China Sea ruling by arbitration court

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, on February 9.FOTO: REUTERS

The United States on Thu (Jul 7) urged respect for a decision on territorial disputes in the South China Sea set to be handed down by an international arbitration court next week.


The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Dutch city of The Hague is set to make its final decision on Tuesday in the case between the Philippines and China.


"We urge both parties to comply with the ruling and urge all claimants to avoid provocative actions or statements," Mr Abraham Denmark, the senior Pentagon official responsible for East Asia, told a congressional hearing about the decision, already rejected in advance by Beijing.


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China warns US on sovereignty ahead of sea row ruling

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel, right, passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981, left, in the South China Sea in this file photo - Reuters

The United States should do nothing to harm China’s sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, China’s foreign minister told US Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of a key court ruling on China’s claims in the disputed waterway.


Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry the United States should stick to its promises not to take sides in the dispute, China’s foreign ministry said.


China hopes the United States “speaks and acts cautiously, and take no actions that harm China’s sovereignty and security interests,” the statement paraphrased Wang as saying.


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Beijing warns U.S. on sovereignty ahead of South China Sea ruling

The center portion of the Subi Reef runway is shown in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative January 8, 2016 satellite image released to Reuters on January 15, 2016

The United States should do nothing to harm China's sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, China's foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of a key court ruling on China's claims in the disputed waterway.


Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry the United States should stick to its promises not to take sides in the dispute, China's foreign ministry said.


China hopes the United States "speaks and acts cautiously, and take no actions that harm China's sovereignty and security interests", the statement paraphrased Wang as saying.


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China reiterates historical rights over South China Sea


Chinese authorities say the results of the upcoming arbitration over the South China Sea dispute will not affect the country's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests over the sea area, while experts suggest the country should do more to help the world better understand its historical rights in the region.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says the territory in question is inherently Chinese.

"The stance of the Chinese government is consistent and clear. China will not accept or recognize any rulings resulting from the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. The so-called rulings will not affect China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests over the South China Sea."
He says history and evidence support China's claim over the region.
"The islands in the South China Sea are China's inherent territory. Based on those islands, China enjoys the maritime rights and interests that come with the territory. China has historical rights over the South China Sea. China's sovereignty and maritime rights and interests over the South China Sea are based on sufficient historical and legal grounds. It is indisputable."
related: South China Sea Historical Background

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China, ASEAN must cooperate on sea issue

The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting was concluded Tuesday in Vientiane, Laos, the first such meeting since the result of the South China Sea arbitration was released earlier this month. The scene that happened in Phnom Penh four years ago did not reoccur this year.

When Cambodia hosted the meeting in 2012, foreign ministers unprecedentedly failed to produce a joint communiqué because Cambodia objected to the Philippines' proposals to include the South China Sea disputes into the statement. They just issued a joint statement over the South China Sea issue a week later.

I was then reporting the 2012 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong revealed that Cambodia objected to the communiqué draft proposed by countries including the Philippines because it included the China-Philippines spat over Huangyan Island. Cambodia believed at the time that this is a bilateral dispute and should not involve the entirety of ASEAN.

related: South China Sea arbitration

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China's South China Sea Claims Dashed by Hague Court Ruling

China’s prestige as a rising global power suffered a blow as an international tribunal said its efforts to assert control over the South China Sea exceeded the law.

The ruling is a rebuff to years of Chinese activity in the waterway. Under President Xi Jinping, China has built a web of artificial islands with runways and lighthouses. It has shooed away planes and ships from other nations, and its coast guard has clashed with fishing boats. At the heart of Xi’s actions is a bid to restore China to great power status and push back against decades of U.S. influence.

China boycotted the process and dismissed the ruling. The outcome may empower other claimant states and undercut Xi’s efforts to present China as a responsible player on the world stage. The risk is it now hardens its stance over a waterway that hosts about $5 trillion of trade a year and is a link for global energy shipments.

Territorial Disputes: Malignant and Benign

Some things are worth fighting for. What about a few desert islands occupied mainly by birds, goats and moles? China and Japan seem to think so, the rest of the world is alarmed and a look at other territorial disputes around the globe shows that stranger things have happened. There are about 60 such conflicts simmering worldwide. Most will bubble along, unresolved but harmless, 400 years after the Peace of Westphalia established the notion of national sovereignty. Others are more dangerous.


The Situation - China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, where it has constructed artificial islands and built up its military presence. Five others — Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan — claim parts of the same maritime area, a thriving fishing zone through which more than $5 trillion of trade passes each year. In a case brought by the Philippines, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled against China in July, saying it had no historic rights to the resources within a dashed line drawn on a 1940s map that had formed the basis of its claims. While the court said the ruling was binding, China said the tribunal has no jurisdiction. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for restraint and in October held talks with China on contested territory.

The U.S., the longtime guarantor of freedom of navigation in the waters, has stepped up support for Southeast Asian maritime law enforcement agencies and Indonesia has accused Chinese fishing boats of increasingly encroaching into its waters. One thousand miles to the northeast, in the East China Sea, China is in dispute with Japan over century-old claims to a separate set of islands — called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese — that have been administered by Japan since 1972. U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014 said a U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to the islands, meaning the U.S. military could act if Japanese waters were violated. Meantime, Donald Trump's election as U.S. president adds a new element of uncertainty. Trump has accused the Chinese of building a military fortress in the South China Sea and of doing so “at will because they have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country.” China is also locked in a disagreement with India over the two countries’ land border.

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Testing waters: Confrontations between China and the US

China, which is a continental rather than maritime power, is not surrounded by a vast ocean that allows its submarines to go undetected – an attribute that the US and Russia possess and benefit from, Prof Zhang added.

With the threat of American monitoring activities in the South China Sea amplified by the danger of Japanese surveillance in the East China Sea up north, Prof Zhang said: “It is my reading that China thought the US was using the drone to track down one of its submarines and they felt that [they] had to act.”

Yet, while US president-elect Donald Trump was right to denounce the seizure in particular as “unprecedented”, this is not the first time both countries have locked horns at sea in the early stages of a new presidency.

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Five Ways China Lost in Tribunal’s Ruling on South China Sea
Itu Aba Source: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

The most striking thing about the international court ruling on the South China Sea on Tuesday was how completely it quashed China’s arguments.

From invalidating the "nine-dash line" that defined China’s claims to more than 80 percent of the waterway to reprimands over harassment of fishermen, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague undermined the country’s position in almost every area Tuesday. The Philippines, which brought the challenge under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, received a near-total victory.

China declined to take part in the tribunal process and rejected the court’s jurisdiction. Here are five ways it lost in the 479-page decision:
  • Nine-Dash Line
  • Itu Aba
  • Fishing Rights
  • Harsh Language 
  • China’s Reputation
Full Text: The South China Sea Ruling

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