MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international treaty adopted in 1982, will collapse if China succeeds in taking over the rest of the South China Sea, retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.
Speaking at a virtual forum organized by Stratbase ADRi Wednesday, Carpio noted how Beijing has sought to use the “right is might” concept in the South China Sea “in glaring violation of UNCLOS.”
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“China is enforcing its claim outside the compulsory dispute settlement mechanism of UNCLOS, by authorizing its Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels fishing in the high seas or in their own exclusive economic zones, hundreds of nautical miles from China’s own exclusive economic zone,” Carpio said.
China continues to reject the July 2016 ruling of an UNCLOS-backed tribunal that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
With China’s growing presence in the South China Sea, Carpio said nations of the world must unite to prevent Beijing from ending a rules-based maritime order in the region as this would start a naval arms race among coastal states.
“The nations of the world must unite to strongly push back China, otherwise if China succeeds in taking the South China Sea, or in making the South China Sea its own national lake, denying the application of UNCLOS in the South China Sea, then UNCLOS will collapse for other naval powers will also seize their new seas as their own possessions,” Carpio added.