THE Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has set on Nov. 24 the start of the hearing on the merits of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China’s sweeping claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, even as Manila vowed to pursue the case to the end.

Foreign Affairs spokesman DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the hearing will take place at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Last October 30, the arbitral panel rejected China’s arguments that it does not have the authority to rule on the historic case, and announced that it will proceed with formal hearings on the merit to determine the legality of China’s claims.

A final ruling is expected in 2016.

Manila sought arbitration in 2013 in the wake of a standoff with Beijing over the Scarborough or Panatag Shoal located   124 nautical miles off   Zambales province.

Chinese coast guard vessels did not leave the area as agreed upon with Philippine authorities, and proceeded to reclaim the shoal, forcing Manila to seek arbitration.

The Philippines wants the arbitral tribunal to issue a declaration that China’s nine-dash line claim is invalid and contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; direct China to respect the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, contiguous zone, and territorial sea in the West Philippine Sea; and to ask China to desist from activities that violate the country’s sovereign rights.

But Beijing refused to participate in the arbitral proceedings and insisted on a bilateral solution to the dispute.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the arbitration case has strained Philippine-Chinese relations and it is up to the Philippines to mend the rift.

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China, South China Sea Dispute, Philippines, USA, Spratlys,  Islands, Reclamation, Regular Patrols, Military Conflict, Militarization, ADIZ, Air Defense Identification Zone