In this Friday, July 8, 2016 photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese navy sailors search for targets onboard the missile destroyer Hefei during a military exercise in the waters near south China’s Hainan Island and Paracel Islands. They are controlled by Beijing but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. China’s navy is holding a week of military drills around the disputed islands ahead of a ruling by an international tribunal in a case filed by the Philippines challenging China’s claim to most of the South China Sea. China is boycotting the case before The Hague-based court and says it will not accept the verdict.
China has frequently called on states to follow and apply the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in good faith. Not so long ago, in 2009, China repeated the call when objecting to Japan’s claim of an extended continental shelf based on Oki-no-Tori, a tiny feature in the Philippine Sea.
China argues that such small features can only be classified as rocks under the UNCLOS definition, and do not entitle a nation to extended maritime zones. China has been persistent in maintaining this position; it went on stating that “[R]ecognition of such a claim will set a precedent, which may lead to encroachment upon the high seas and the area on a larger scale.” This is the original view of China regarding countries claiming excessive entitlements from maritime features.