Rebutting China’s Claims


Two years after the Philippines initiated arbitration proceedings against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, China belatedly published in the web site of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs its official Position Paper on the arbitration.

The Chinese position was divided into three.

First, that the UNCLOS ad hoc arbitral tribunal has no subject matter jurisdiction since what are involved are maritime territories generated by land territories;

Second, that the arbitration is in violation of the substantive obligation of the Philippines to negotiate with China the matter of the disputed islands and waters; and

Third, assuming arguendo that the Tribunal has subject-matter jurisdiction, it is still barred as a matter of delimitation which China has reserved from the jurisdiction of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedure.

China reiterated that the waters within the contested nine-dash lines are waters generated by land territories. According to it, the Tribunal cannot act on the Philippine request to declare the said lines as contrary to UNCLOS without a prior determination of the validity of claims to land territories generating these maritime territories. And because the Philippine sought declaration would entail a legal conclusion on the validity of title over these disputed islands, the Tribunal, whose only jurisdiction is limited to issues of interpretation and application of the UNCLOS, is bereft of jurisdiction: “the subject-matter of the Philippines’ claims is in essence one of territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the Convention and does not concern the interpretation or application of the Convention. Consequently, the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the claims of the Philippines for arbitration.”


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