Philippines Wins Over China on West Philippine Sea Dispute

Philippines Wins Over China on West Philippine Sea Dispute

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On July 12, Tuesday, the arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherland favors the Philippines over China, releasing an 11-page press release summarizing key parts of the original 501-page document for the award.

It took 3 years for the decision to be made.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said, “Our experts are studying the Award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves. In the meantime, we call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.”

He added that the Philippines “strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision,” accepting the ruling of the tribunal.

Here are the highlights of the tribunal’s ruling:

The so-called “9-dash line” is invalid: “The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘9-dash line.'”

Reclaimed islands have no exclusive economic zone: “The Tribunal noted that the current presence of official personnel on many of the features is dependent on outside support and not reflective of the capacity of the features… that none of the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones.

“The Tribunal found that it could – without delimiting a boundary – declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”

China has behaved unlawfully: “China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law-enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.”

Beijing has damaged the environment: China’s large-scale land reclamation has “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems.”

Island building should have stopped during the dispute process: The panel said it had no jurisdiction over the military standoff at Second Thomas Shoal, where Chinese and Philippine military and law enforcement vessels are locked in confrontation.

However, “China’s recent large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands were incompatible with the obligations on a state during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has… destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features of the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.”

The ruling was the only thing that President Rodrigo Duterte is waiting to make his next move in the maritime dispute against China.

According to Yasay, he is open in having a bilateral talk with China after this ruling by the tribunal.

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