Tag Archives: History

China: Rejection of the Philippines’ arbitration ‘in line with law’

Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China’s rejection of arbitration filed by the Philippines over terroritorial claims, is in line with the law. His remarks came after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing on Wednesday, as Australia called for a resolution to the South China Sea disputes through peaceful means, including arbitration. “China is actually following international law by not accepting arbitration regarding sovereign and maritime entitlements. Because after joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2006, China issued a declaration according to the rights given to China by Article 298 of the UNCLOS. We issued a government statement excluding China from being subjected to the compulsory settlement measures. The Chinese government will continue to stand by the declaration.” said Wang Yi. The minister listed reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt, first made in 2014 to a UN tribunal, is invalid and unacceptable. He said it was a unilateral move by the Philippines, which goes against international norms on arbitration, and that they have not yet exhausted other means to reach a resolution. Wang Yi also said any deployment of defense facilities on China’s own territory would be legitimate. http://english.cntv.cn/2016/02/18/VIDEN2AdpN9EmAhWPGP2fbB6160218.shtml

Philippines vs. China: Arbitral Claims under UNCLOS

Launching the Arbitral Case The arbitration, filed in accordance with the dispute settlement provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (“UNCLOS”) (Art. 287 and Annex VII (“Arbitration”), commenced on 22 January, 2013, when the Philippines served China with a “Notification and Statement of Claim” “over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.” On 19 February, 2013, China, in a diplomatic note setting out “the Position of China on the South China Sea issues,” rejected the Notification. Both countries ratified UNCLOS. Part 1. Philippines’ good-faith attempts at negotiations with China As Paul S. Reichler, Lead Counsel for the Philippines, explains at an UNCLOS discussion: “Negotiations go back to 1995 … China simply held on to the position that China had sovereignty and sovereign rights within the 9-dash line.” The situation was aggravated in April 2012 by Chinese ships surrounding Scarborough Shoal.” “And in the spring of this year, China moved in on Second Thomas Shoal.” (P.S. Reichler, Foley Hoag LLP) Part 2. What lies at stake? PHILIPPINES: If China’s claim [assertion of its 9-dash line] were allowed to stand, the Philippines stands to lose substantial rights to her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China would deprive fishermen from Zambales and Pangasinan of their livelihood. China’s land reclamation and islandbuilding activities would damage the marine ecosystem. The safety of maritime vessels would be at risk. The potential to exploit a major hydo-carbon resource in Reed Bank (100 miles off Palawan) would be lost. CHINA: Apart from asserting sovereignty over “an area defined by the “9-dash line,” a right that China asserts “goes back centuries to when the Paracel [disputed by Vietnam] and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation” (BBC News), China has refused to take part in the case, or to accept the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. (see the PROC’s Position Paper, 7 Dec. 2014) Part 3. Philippines Resorts to Arbitration in accordance with UNCLOS Philippines’ “Rules-based” Approach. As Reichler explains: “Confronting China militarily is not a viable option. The Philippines does not have the kind of economic or commercial influence” to change her behavior.” But the one option that appeared was the law” because “before an arbitral tribunal, a small State that is weaker militarily, economically, commercially, has the opportunity, at least, to compete on equal terms.” (Reichler, A UNCLOS discussion) Philippines’ Strategic Approach in the Arbitration. Adhering to the requisites of UNCLOS, the Philippines did not seek a ruling “on the territorial sovereignty aspect.” She instead sought a “clarification of her maritime entitlements.” Reichler elaborates: Under UNCLOS, “a coastal state entitlement is described as a 12-mile entitlement to a territorial sea over which the coast exercises sovereignty over land, and almost a 200-mile economic zone off its coast.” Within 200 miles off its coast, “a State has an exclusive entitlement to use the living resources, fish in the water, and the non-living resources under the sea bed, that is, the continental shelf.” “China’s claims conflict with this sovereignty or sovereign rights not only of 200 miles but of more than 800 miles” from her mainland coast. (A) 9-dash line. The Philippines’ “main claim” is that China’s 9-dash claim, that is, her claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights extending far beyond her entitlement under UNCLOS, is “inconsistent with that Convention and it constitutes a trespass or violation of the Philippines within 200 miles.” (Reichler, A UNCLOS Discussion) Reichler emphasizes: “Sovereignty is disputed.” But under UNCLOS, an arbitral tribunal “does not have jurisdiction to determine sovereignty over land features, and that includes islands or insular formation. However, what the Philippines has asked of the Tribunal is that it determine the status of this feature under the Convention, that is, is it a true island which would generate, like a State with a coastline, a 200- mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, or is it what the Convention refers to as a rock, an insular feature that is above water at high tide?” (Reichler; bold added) Read more: http://maritimereview.ph/2016/01/18/philippines-vs-china-arbitral-claims-under-unclos/

China rejects U.N. arbitration on disputed South China Sea

The Arbitral Tribunal under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) established at the request of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over the case, Mr. Hong said. China on Monday rejected a UN tribunal’s arbitration on the disputed South China Sea saying it had no jurisdiction over the case even as Beijing asserted it would not accept any third-party settlement of territorial disputes. “China’s territorial sovereignty should be decided by all the Chinese people, and no other people or organisation has the right to handle it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told media here. He was replying to a question on the recent release of a court hearing record by an international tribunal in the Hague lodged by the Philippines as China brushed aside the UN tribunal arbitrating the case saying that it will not accept its verdict in the matter. Mr. Hong said China’s position on the South China Sea stands on a solid international legal base and will remain unchanged. He said at the hearing, the Philippines which filed the petition ignored facts, international law and justice, and attempted to deny China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea (SCS) islands. The Arbitral Tribunal under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) established at the request of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over the case, Mr. Hong said. Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/china-rejects-un-arbitration-on-disputed-south-china-sea/article8014528.ece

The Cham: Descendants of Ancient Rulers of South China Sea Watch Maritime Dispute From Sidelines

Tensions in the South China Sea reignited last month, when China deployed a government-owned oil drilling rig in an area also claimed by Vietnam just south of the Paracel Islands. Anti-China protesters broke into and torched Chinese, Taiwanese, and South Korean factories in southern Vietnam. According to media reports, as many as 21 people died in the chaos, and more than a hundred were injured. Thousands of Chinese workers fled the country. Under dispute are the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, which are mostly uninhabited, and a central region of the South China Sea, which is home to overlapping claims by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. But the dispute between Vietnam and China is grabbing the most attention. Both have referred to historical ties with the islands, in China’s case dating to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220), to support their claims in the region. Meanwhile, in Vietnam the roughly 160,000 members of the Cham ethnic minority, whose forebears dominated the South China Sea for more than a millennium, are quietly on the sidelines of the escalating conflict. Two centuries after their then-diminished dominion ended violently at the hands of Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang, the Cham remain wary of engaging in such disputes, the current version of which is a reminder of the symbolic and economic importance of the South China Sea and of the Cham culture that once was enriched by trade across it. Read more: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140616-south-china-sea-vietnam-china-cambodia-champa/

Maritime Dispute Exposes Rifts in China’s Foreign Ministry

A debate in China’s foreign ministry on how to respond — or whether to respond — to a court case over the disputed South China Sea highlights how tensions over policy are complicating President Xi Jinping’s efforts to project the country as a responsible power. China is boycotting arbitration hearings brought by the Philippines in The Hague that are heading to a conclusion next year, saying it doesn’t recognize the court’s jurisdiction. That fits its approach of dealing with disputes on a state-to-state basis, rather than through courts or international groupings, but its absence means there is no counter-argument to the Philippines’ case. While there was an internal discussion about whether to have a presence when the hearings started last month, international law experts were unable to assure policy makers of absolute success in defending China’s territorial claims, according to two people familiar with the matter. China muddied the waters in December 2014, when it filed a position paper arguing the Philippine submission was about a sovereignty dispute and therefore outside the court’s jurisdiction, adding China has “indisputable sovereignty” as the “first country to discover, name, explore and exploit the resources” of the area. The Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected the argument and deemed the paper “as effectively constituting a plea.” Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-17/toxic-football-south-china-sea-case-spurs-china-ministry-debate

International Court Hard for China to Ignore

When an international court ruled in late October that it had jurisdiction to hear a case filed by the Philippines against China over the disputed South China Sea, Beijing dismissed the decision, saying it would “lead to nothing”. Philippine officials as well as some foreign diplomats and experts disagree, saying China could come under intensified diplomatic and legal pressure if the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ultimately decides in favor of Manila. Legal experts say Manila has a significant chance of success, citing the court’s detailed rejection of China’s arguments in the hearing on jurisdiction. A final ruling is expected in mid-2016. Such a judgment would likely be a millstone around China’s neck, especially at regional meetings, because it would mark the first time an international court has intervened in the dispute, making it harder for Beijing to ignore, the diplomats and experts said. Barely noticed when Manila filed the case in 2013 and largely seen as a sideshow since then to the tensions playing out on the waterway itself, some Asian and Western countries have started expressing growing support for the court process. One expert said if the ruling went against China on key points he would expect to see coordinated positions from Western nations that would keep the pressure on Beijing in bilateral meetings and at international forums. “Other countries will use it as a stick to beat Beijing with. That’s why China is so freaked by this whole issue,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian Studies. Read more: http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/international-court-hard-for-china-to-ignore

Phl lead counsel: China to lose influence if it defies tribunal’s decision

FILE – In this Friday, April 17, 2015 file photo, protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines to protest moves by China in “fortifying” its claims at the disputed Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea. China’s campaign of island building in the South China Sea might soon quadruple the number of airstrips available to the People’s Liberation Army in the highly contested and strategically vital region. That could be bad news for other regional contenders, especially the U.S., the Philippines and Vietnam. AP/Bullit Marquez, File MANILA, Philippines – China might lose its influence over smaller states if it will defy the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the arbitration case regarding the South China Sea dispute, according to the Philippines’s lead counsel in the case. Manila lead counsel Paul Reichler said in an interview with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative that China is expected to “vent quite a bit” if the tribunal sides with the Philippines. “By defying a judgment, particularly if it’s a unanimous judgment, particularly if it’s well-reasoned, if it’s well-explained and if it is understood and supported by the international community… China will be branded… an international outlaw state,” Reichler said. Reichler added that this would cause a “loss of prestige” and loss of influence, particularly over Southeast Asian nations. The international lawyer, however, noted that China’s initial reaction might not be its final reaction. “There is a strong possibility that China will look for a way to save face and accommodate itself of the judgment not only of the arbitral tribunal but the international community,” the lawyer said. Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/12/11/1531526/phl-lead-counsel-china-lose-influence-if-it-defies-tribunals-decision

China’s ‘historical sovereignty’ over East Vietnam Sea is groundless: US expert

The “historical sovereignty” China claims over the East Vietnam Sea is baseless and thus Beijing should comply with international law, according to a U.S. expert. Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, offered the remark when talking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, rejecting the argument of a Chinese scholar at an international conference on East Vietnam Sea issues that concluded in the southern Vietnamese city of Vung Tau on Tuesday. The Chinese scholar in question is Dr. Nong Hong, director of a research center under an institute for East Vietnam Sea studies in China. In her speech at the event, Dr. Nong said that China’s “historical sovereignty” under the so-called “nine-dash line” is more meaningful in terms of international law than the concept of “exclusive economic zone” adopted by other countries in the East Vietnam Sea. The line was unilaterally proclaimed by China to illegally claim sovereignty over about 80 percent of the East Vietnam Sea, including Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes. Read more: http://tuoitrenews.vn/politics/31860/chinas-historical-sovereignty-over-east-vietnam-sea-is-groundless-us-expert