News: South China Sea Dispute

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SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE 

The International Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands made a decision on July 12th,  2016 in favor of the Philippines against China’s claim to the South China Sea.
China has been claiming to own about 85 percent of the islands. Although 80 percent of it belongs to the  West Philippine Sea and is part of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Among the disputed islands are Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands. An island called Kalayaan is part of Spratly Islands.  Kalayaan is the smallest municipality belonging to the province of Palawan. It has a population of 222 according to the 2000 Census.

South China sea dispute

The Arbitral Tribunal’s rulings are as follow:

  • There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line”
  • None of the Spratly Islands grant China an Exclusive Economic Zone
  • The tribunal declared that certain areas in the Spratly Islands are within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone. Although they didn’t lay down any boundaries.
  • China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone by interfering with fishing and petroleum exploration, constructing artificial islands, and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone
  • Chinese authorities did not fulfill their obligation to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered sea turtles, corals, and giant clams on a substantial scale in the South China Sea
  • China’s large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands during the proceedings was inappropriate behavior. They should have waited until after the final decision of The Hague

The Philippines called the decision a “milestone”.  This victory in The Hague will help the Philippines in their standings and claims against China. The Chinese government refused to accept the court’s decision as expected. Now our eyes are upon the UN on what actions are going to be taken for this to be enforced.

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