China has firmly rejected an international tribunal ruling that its claims to rights in the South China Sea have no legal basis. President Xi Jinping said China's “territorial sovereignty and marine rights” in the seas would not be affected by the ruling “in any way”, however he added that Beijing was still “committed to resolving disputes” with its neighbors.
The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The tribunal, based in the Hague, ruled that there was no evidence that China had historic rights to the waters or resources that fell within its nine-dash line, and was violating the Philippine's sovereign rights with its operations there.
The ruling was made by an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both countries have signed. It is binding but the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no powers of enforcement.
The Philippines has had diplomatic spats with China over the Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys in particular. It says China's nine-dash line, which China uses to demarcate its territorial claims, is unlawful under the UNCLOS convention. Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have competing claims in the region.
Although these islands are largely uninhabited, they may have reserves of natural resources around them. There has been little detailed exploration of the area, so estimates are largely extrapolated from the mineral wealth of neighboring areas. The sea is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.
Chinese media were quick to take the official line that Beijing would not recognize the ruling. China's state news agency Xinhua said that as the panel has no jurisdiction, its decision is naturally null and void.
The Philippine government welcomed the ruling as a milestone decision, but there was little outright celebration.
Both the US and Japan urged both sides to abide by the ruling. The US called it an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.
But Taiwan rejected the tribunal's findings on an area it administers, saying the ruling had seriously damaged its rights and would definitely not accept this ruling.
The US sent an aircraft carrier and fighter jets to the region ahead of the decision, while the Chinese navy has been carrying out exercises near the disputed Paracel islands. This result represents a major loss of face for China, and yet the first response from Beijing to the UN tribunal's demolition of its claims seems be rather conciliatory.
On the one hand, the Chinese government has re-stated that it has territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the area and that the activities of its people there date back to over 2,000 years ago. However, it then goes on to talk about consultation with the states directly concerned and proposes joint development in relevant maritime areas.
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Massive blow to China!Jul 13th, 2016 - 06:40 am 0
Was nice to see.
@1Jul 13th, 2016 - 08:10 am 0
Massive blow. Not really. That the ruling would go against China was a foregone conclusion. I don't think the Chinese thought for a second that UNCLOS would buy their fanciful claim.
The ruling gives China the opportunity to show that they are top dog in the China Sea and they make the rules. Not the ICJ, not UNCLOS, but China.
It would appear that China is worried about the vulnerability of it's land based ICBM'S. To counter this, they are now developing ballistic missile submarines which presumably will be based on Hainan island.Jul 13th, 2016 - 10:04 am 0
These subs. will need deep water exits to the Pacific and Indian oceans free of interference from it's neighbours and the USA. The deep water of the S.China sea will give them this.
Claiming the South China Sea and the small islands will effectively give them control of the whole area enabling their subs. to transit the area under the protection of these islandbases.
I don't think they will give up their plans because of an adverse ruling by UNCLOS.
Only the USA has the naval power to challenge China in this area. What happens next remains to be seen.