A ruling on South China Sea dispute is no cause for gloom

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The Hague tribunal’s Philippines versus China arbitration could augur well – if complied with
In the article, “South China Sea arbitration: What may follow”, in The Straits Times last Saturday, writers Kang Lin, Jiang Zongqiang and Hu Xin attempt to give grounds for China’s position that the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague does not have jurisdiction over the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea.

The tribunal had ruled at the end of last October that the case was “properly constituted” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The article also anticipates China’s reactions, and predicts that rising tensions and escalating disputes in the South China Sea may follow the tribunal’s final award.

It advances several arguments that mirror China’s position regarding the tribunal’s jurisdiction, or lack thereof, over the disputes. First, it argues that the tribunal – established in accordance with Annex VII of the 1982 Unclos – does not have jurisdiction because the disputes are not about the interpretation or application of Unclos; instead they concern issues of territorial sovereignty.

The tribunal addressed this argument, holding that each of the Philippines’ submissions reflects disputes between the two states concerning the interpretation or application of Unclos. While it acknowledged it has no jurisdiction to consider issues of sovereignty, it concluded that none of the issues raised by the Philippines would require even an implicit determination of sovereignty.

Read more: http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/a-ruling-on-south-china-sea-dispute-is-no-cause-for-gloom

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