China’s lion-share claims to the resource-rich waters in the South China Sea took a huge blow earlier this month after the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a landmark ruling dismissing China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claim.
The court found that Beijing had violated the Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights and concluded there was no legal basis for China’s nine-dash line, which encompasses approximately 85% of the South China Sea.
While the PCA ruling is only binding between Beijing and Manila, it does, however, set a legal foundation by determining that the rules of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea take precedence over China’s historic claims.
In short, if there is no “nine-dash line,” other stakeholders in the South China Sea may be inspired to file lawsuits against China if Beijing refuses to compromise on access to the waters.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China all have claims in the South China Sea, making the region one of the most disputed areas on the planet.