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  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:10am

Philippines files UN case challenging China's claims in South China Sea

Manila presses case before arbitration tribunal challenging China over resource-rich waters in South China Sea, but Beijing will not take part

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 5:31am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 7:38am

The Philippines has filed a case in the UN challenging Beijing's claim to most of the South China Sea, a day after a dramatic stand-off with China's coastguard.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday announced the filing of the plea before the UN arbitration tribunal despite Chinese warnings of a fallout in bilateral relations. This comes days after President Xi Jinping compared China to an "awakened lion". Xi's use of the lion metaphor in a speech in Paris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with France was seen by analysts as a desire for more assertive foreign policy.

Del Rosario said Manila had asked the UN tribunal to declare China's claims over the strategic and resource-rich waters as a violation of international law. "It is about defending what is legitimately ours. It is about securing our children's future. It is about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations," he said.

China's claims over the South China Sea, believed to harbour vast oil and gas reserves, overlap those of the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It is about defending what is legitimately ours. It is about securing our children's future
Albert del Rosario

The Philippines announced last year that it would ask the UN to declare China's claims illegal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The filing beats a March 30 deadline set by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Chief Philippine government lawyer Francis Jardeleza said he expected the tribunal, based in the German city of Hamburg, to advise both parties on the next steps. He did not know when a ruling would be made.

China has refused to take part in the arbitration with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei last week warning that bilateral relations would suffer if the Philippines pursued the appeal.

"The case could further heighten tensions and prompt China to move to shoals claimed by the Philippines," said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila. "Other claimants such as Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia are watching how this case will play out."

Manila has argued that China's claims cover areas as far as 1,611 kilometres from the nearest Chinese coast and interfere with the Philippines' exercising of its rights to its continental shelf.

The Philippine filing came a day after a Filipino supply vessel slipped past a blockade of Chinese coastguard vessels to deliver supplies to, and rotate troops from, a remote and disputed South China Sea reef. A small number of Filipino soldiers are stationed on a navy vessel that was grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to assert the Philippines' sovereignty.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg


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Merely by looking at the map I really can't believe the whole South China Sea should belong to China. And I never hear of any grounds made by Chinese officials so far. If China really want to "awake" it should learn to respect other countries, or else it will just become a "barbarian" lion. In view of all foreign policies, the South China Sea dispute is the most I feel heartbroken and shameful as a Chinese. I don't give any support to China on the claim it makes.
Some parts of the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands are clearly part of China's territory. Under international law, China is entitled to claim territorial rights over its present demarcation lines. It's understood that this territory overlaps with the EEZ of other nations. The correct course of action by the Filipinos is to negotiate with the Chinese and not escalate the issue by taking this to the international tribunal. Not only does the Filipinos not have a case, in the unlikely event that the tribunal rule in its favour, there is nothing in international law that enables them to enforce judgment against China.
Formerly ******
Let's see, with regard to various areas of land and the ocean, so far China is challenging to a one-on-one fight, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, S. Korea, and Japan. Does China really believe that these countries will negotiate sea rights and borders one-on-one?
Hmmm. Does any one see a new military alliance about to form in Asia? Perhaps in might be named CC (Circle China).
A Matsui
The Philippines is a dishonourable country at war with herself, committing atrocities against Muslims in Mindanao and trying to distract Filipinos from the misrule and plunder of the corrupt Philippines government. Also by taking Japanese bribes to stir up trouble, this dishonourable country is becoming a lawless troublemaker.
Let's give China everything it demands. The elite can then syphon off the wealth from the mineral deposits under the ocean into their personal accounts, send it overseas with their families, and then rejoin their families and the money on their new Canadian passports.
Merely looking at the map, the Falklands should belong to Argentina. Do you give support to Taiwan because that's there same claim too?

During WW2 Japan took claim to all of the South China Sea and the lands
therein including much of China. The Philippine people fought gallantly in
concert with American forces loosing more than a million brave fighting Filipino
people. China people and military turned tail and ran to hide from Japan taking
the South China Sea and surrounding lands, while Filipinos fought gallantly, the
results was the unconditional surrender of Japan to USA forces.
Douglas MacArthur was delegated the authority to disperse the holdings Japan
took during there WW2 occupation in a fair and undisputed way. China needs to
man up and pay tribute to those American and Filipino people who fought gallantly
with America and brought restoration to China and those in and about the South
China/West Philippine Sea. Get real China don't try to claim what others paid
the price for! You bring dishonor to China! CHINA HAS NO CLAIM to the West Philippine Sea!
I am certainly no expert, but it takes a grade 4 student to look at a map and discover there is no way that China has the right to most of what it claims...I thought every country had a claim to 200 miles off its shoreline. Obviously there are going to be areas which more than one country has a claim, but Palawan Island in the Philippines has to be at least 1000 miles from China,and the Spratlys are much closer to the Philippines than to China...China is just afraid to take it to the UN because they know they will lose...simple as that. After the ridiculous spectacle the families of the downed Malaysian plane are making, I can now see how unreasonable some Chinese are!!
Max Diethelm
Harping on the MH370 tragedy just to insult the Chinese makes you a SOB and WMF. If some members of your family or friends (you probably don't have any) were in MH370 will you be still so cocky? Maybe, just to prove you are a SOB and WMF!
Except many of these countries do large amounts of trade with China as well. Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping claims. Ditto for Taiwan. SK's not really on good terms with Japan and let's not forget it could use China's relation to lean on NK. A lot going on so it even be many new alliances, just not all in the direction you're thinking.



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