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Backgrounder: A brief look at the South China Sea arbitration case

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

07-12-2016 14:17 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

July 12 (Xinhua) -- The South China Islands have been China's territory since ancient times. To challenge China's sovereignty over the islands, the Philippines unilaterally filed an arbitration case in 2013 at a tribunal based in The Hague, which is expected to announce its award on Tuesday.

-- The Philippines claims that it only wants the arbitral tribunal to rule on the status and maritime entitlements of relevant features in the Nanshan Islands. Sovereignty issues, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is beyond the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal. China has also validly excluded delimitation disputes in a declaration in 2006.

-- A day after filing the arbitration in 2013, the Philippine foreign ministry said the purpose of the case is to "protect our country's territory and oceanic area" and vowed not to "give up our country's sovereignty."

-- The Philippines, which has never engaged in any negotiation with China regarding an arbitration, has breached UNCLOS Article 283 by unilaterally taking its case to an international tribunal.

-- The arbitral tribunal's reception of the South China Sea sets a bad example in settling international disputes because the case is beyond the tribunal's jurisdiction.

-- The selection of the members of the tribunal is highly questionable.Most of them were picked by Shunji Yanai, a famous Japanese right-winger, who in 2014 presented a report to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider lifting the ban on Japan sending its military overseas.

-- The South China Sea has enjoyed decades of peace and commercial prosperity, but has seen a more complex security situation and escalated tensions since the unilateral filing in 2013 by the Philippines and supported by countries outside the region.

-- No matter what the verdict, the illegal nature of the arbitration will make it null and void. China's stand of neither participating in, nor accepting the arbitration, and neither recognizing, nor honoring the verdict not only safeguards its core interests but also international law.

-- The Chinese Foreign Ministry has reiterated that the door to dialogue remains open to the Philippines on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law.


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