MANILA, Philippines — On 12 July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) under the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled in favor of the Philippines in its 14 claims against China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea that it is a violation of international law. The court declared that China’s claims—defined by the nine-dash line—to an expansive maritime zone and its underwater resources are illegal.
It also maintained that Chinese land reclamation and construction projects in the land features in the South China Sea violate the Philippines’s territorial rights. The ruling also found China guilty of destroying the maritime environment by building artificial islands and illegally preventing Filipinos from fishing and oil exploration in the South China Sea.
The PCA’s rewards to the Philippine case is a strong assertion of the dispute resolution mechanism of UNCLOS and more significantly, the triumph of the Philippines’s liberal approach over China’s realpolitik approach in the South China Sea dispute.