Weeks ahead of an expected decision by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration on a legal challenge by the Philippines against China’s claims to the South China Sea, a Hong Kong-based institute has produced a 41-page legal document making the case that the dispute lies outside the court’s jurisdiction.
The amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief was submitted on June 6 by the Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific Institute of International Law (APIIL).
According to state-run Xinhua news agency, the brief was endorsed by “several solicitors and legal experts from China’s Hong Kong, Britain and Australia.” In its report on the matter, China Daily writes that Tony Carty, a British professor of international law at Tsinghua University, and Natalie Klein, professor and dean of Macquarie Law School in Sydney, have signed the brief to the Court.
Hong Kong barrister Daniel R. Fung (aka Daniel Fung Wah-kin, 馮華健), chairman of APIIL, argues that the South China Sea dispute should be handled through diplomatic and political negotiations rather than arbitration, adding that they should not be handled under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Indicatively, even though amicus curiae is a third party to a case, Fung’s argument mirrors the position that Beijing has adopted in the dispute and one of the reasons why the Chinese government has refused to recognize the validity of the Court.