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China's historical rights within dotted line not deniable: People's Daily

Editor: Zhang Pengfei 丨Xinhua

05-24-2016 08:38 BJT

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- China's historical rights within the dotted line in the South China Sea are not deniable despite the attempt of the Philippines to question them by distorting facts, The People's Daily said in an article published on Monday.

Photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows the lighthouse on Zhubi Reef of Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, south China. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

Photo taken on April 5, 2016 shows the lighthouse on Zhubi Reef of Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, south China. (Xinhua/Xing Guangli)

The Philippines has asked for the international tribunal, which has not been endorsed by China as a just one, to negate China's historical rights within the dotted line in the South China Sea, saying they are not supported by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, the Philippines, The People's Daily said, has distorted historical facts and purposefully misinterpreted the UNCLOS.

The Philippines claimed that the Chinese people had conducted no activities in, and therefore had no historical connections with, the South China Sea.

However, the truth is China's activities in the South China Sea date back to over 2,000 years ago, The People's Daily article said. China has been the first to discover, name and develop the group of islands in the South China Sea, which have been known as the Nanhai Islands in China. For centuries, the Chinese government had been the administrator of the islands by putting them under the administration of local governments, conducting military patrols and providing rescue services.

The Nansha and Xisha Islands, occupied by Japan during World War II, were returned to China as part of the territories stolen from China. This has been clearly set out in international documents such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. China sent government and military officials to recover the islands and deployed troops there.

In the controversial case, the Philippines also claimed that the Chinese side only put forward its claim to its historical rights in 2009, 27 years after the UNCLOS was concluded.

This is a malicious misinterpretation of China's historical rights, The People's Daily said. China has repeatedly said that its sovereign and related rights to the group of islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters were acquired during a long historical process and has been pronounced by successive governments of China over time.

In 1947, the then Chinese government renamed the group of islands in the South China Sea after conducting geological surveys. In 1948, a dotted line was printed in official maps to reiterate and reaffirm China's sovereign and related rights in the South China Sea. The government of the People's Republic of China has maintained such historical rights and taken actions to safeguard such rights since Oct. 1, 1949.

The Philippines, in its attempt to negate China's historical rights, also maintains that the UNCLOS does not support China's claim of rights to the waters within the dotted line in the South China Sea.

The Philippine argument, The People's Daily article said, does not hold water. The UNCLOS does not govern historical rights and leaves them to the government of customary international law, largely because those who drafted the UNCLOS believed that the historical rights acquired through activities in history based on customary international law are too complicated and various to be put under the government of a single text.

"China's sovereign and related rights in the South China Sea are historical rights acquired in accordance with customary international law, before the birth of the UNCLOS," the article said.

"The UNCLOS is not a proper standard to assess and judge the legitimacy of China's historical rights," it added.

Moreover, the tribunal has no right to go beyond the stipulations of the UNCLOS to make a judgment on the historical rights acquired based on customary international law, it said.

In documents submitted to the tribunal, the Philippine side fabricated China's position on the latter's historical rights in the South China Sea and other facts, by citing the opinions and articles of some biased scholars, the article said.

How could personal opinions published by scholars be used as the proof of a government's legal position? The People's Daily asked. Neither the views and articles by those prejudiced scholars should be accepted as proof of facts, it added.

China has many historical documents and files that serve to prove facts that are contrary to what has been furnished by the Philippine side.

The abuse of the arbitration procedures by the Philippines, the article said, will only make the procedures a farce, and harm the authority of the UNCLOS stipulations in relation to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

China's historical rights within the dotted line in the South China Sea will not in any way be affected by the Philippines' abuse of the arbitration procedures, it said.

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