The International Tribunal rules in favour of Philippines

12 Jul 2016 | Written by Akriti Asthana; Edited by Gaurav
Decoding the South China Sea dispute

The historic ruling by The Hague rejecting China's claims, will put immense global pressure on Beijing to reduce military expansion in the disputed territory.

The court declared certain areas to be within Philippines' EEZ.

It criticized China's artificial island construction which resulted in serious harm to the coral ecosystem.

China interfered with Philippines' petroleum exploration and fishing by allowing Chinese fishermen into the zone.

In context: Decoding the South China Sea dispute

InformationSignificance of the South China Sea

The South China Sea is a region lying in the Pacific Ocean and spreads across 3,500,000 sq km.

It is important largely because one-third of the world's shipping sail through its waters and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.

6 countries- China, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei lay claims to various parts of the territory.

China's 'nine-dash line'

China claims 90% of the South China Sea based on this line drawn in the 1940s. It loops to a point about 1,800kms south of China's Hainan Island. Beijing has never clarified whether it claims all the sea or just the land features within it.
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Contending claims by different countries

ContentionContending claims by different countries

In 1947 China issued a map claiming the Paracel and Spratly Island chains as its integral territory, which are claimed by Taiwan.

The Philippines' claims to the Islands depends on its geographical closeness to them.

According to Malaysia and Brunei, the territory falls within their EEZ, as defined by UNCLOS.

Vietnam said it had the documents to prove its historical control over the territory.

DefinitionsMaking sense of relevant terms

UNCLOS: The 1994 treaty outlines the responsibilities and rights of nations in relation to the world's oceans and the territorial zones. China and Philippines have ratified it whereas the U.S. only follows its provisions.

EEZ: An "exclusive economic zone" of 200 nautical-miles around their territory, employing the specified country's right to exploit natural resources, while allowing the 'innocent passage' of foreign vessels through them.

The US involvement

The United States has conducted several "freedom of navigation" exercises in the area, sending warships within 12 nautical miles of islands, controlled by China and other claimants. It is also rebuilding military ties with the Philippines which China considers as a signal for military confrontation.

12 Jul 2016Hague Tribunal's verdict awaited on South China Sea dispute

The Philippines took China to the International Court of Arbitration in Hague in January 2013, arguing that Beijing's claim violated UN conventions.

However, Beijing has rejected the court's authority to rule on this case.

The Tuesday verdict will affect all the countries in question, regarding the legality of China's "nine-dash line".

The tribunal has no power of enforcement even though the ruling is binding.

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12 Jul 2016The International Tribunal rules in favour of Philippines

12 Jul 2016China's reaction to the verdict

China had previously stated that it would not pay heed to Philippines' unilaterally initiated arbitration and not accept the judgement.

The ruling was unwelcome and China's official news agency described the verdict as "ill-founded" and "naturally null and void".

The Defence Ministry of the country was quoted saying that it's army would regardless "unswervingly safeguard state sovereignty, security, maritime rights and interests,".

13 Jul 2016China hits back at Hague verdict

Hitting back at the verdict by an international tribunal in favour of the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, China issued a policy paper calling the islands in the SCS "inherent territory" of China.

Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin defended China's stance saying, "It is the Philippines that has stirred up the trouble."

He said China would continue to oppose such "illegal claims."

18 Jul 2016China declares military exercises in the South China Sea

China declared the closing down of a part of the South China Sea for military exercises.

This announcement came days after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing's ownership claims.

No details on the nature of the exercises were provided by the maritime administration.

It was announced that an area southeast of the island would be shut until 21st July, 2016.