China loses round 1 in international court


Photo from the Permanent Court of Arbitration shows Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario addressing the tribunal in The Hague last July. Behind him is the counsel team for the Philippines and the empty seats for China’s representatives.

MANILA, Philippines – In a legal setback for Beijing, an arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear maritime claims the Philippines has filed against China over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Manila filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Beijing’s claim that the disputes were about territorial sovereignty and said additional hearings would be held to decide the merits of the Philippines’ arguments.

China has boycotted the proceedings and rejects the court’s authority in the case. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, dismissing claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

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