China rejects arbitration tribunal South China Sea ruling ; History backs China in sea disputes


China on Wednesday rejected a Hague-based arbitration tribunal’s ruling giving it six months to respond to a legal claim by the Philippines over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

China’s stance of not accepting or participating in the arbitration proceedings filed by the Philippines has not changed, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a regular briefing on Wednesday.

The response came after the tribunal of The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, issued a statement on Tuesday, which requires China to submit evidence to defend its territorial claims in the South China Sea before December 15.

The tribunal cited an obligation to assure “each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case,” according to a Tuesday statement.

The Philippines in March filed a memorandum to the international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), questioning the validity of China’s “nine-dash” territorial claim.

However, experts said that without a bilateral agreement, the UNCLOS has no jurisdiction to interfere in sovereignty issues, which made China’s stance reasonable and lawful.

“The international arbitration procedure must be agreed by both parties. If China rejects participating, the arbitration will not work,” Ji Qiufeng, a professor of international relations with Nanjing University, told the Global Times.

Ji noted that the international tribunal is most likely to withdraw the Philippines’ case.

“It will be a wise decision for the international tribunal as it lacks power to enforce. Even if the tribunal makes a judgment by default, China will not accept its verdict,” Ji said. “The tribunal may lose its credibility.”

The United States has said it supports the Philippines’ arbitration case, which is closely watched by other claimant countries including Vietnam, which said last month it was considering legal action against China after a Chinese oil rig started to operate in waters near the Xisha Islands that Hanoi claims as it territory.

Ji pointed out that Vietnam’s legal threat is very likely to depend on the result of the Philippines’ case. “As China stands firm against the Manila plea, Hanoi should be aware that the threats would prove in vain.”

– By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-5 0:43:01

History backs China in sea disputes

China has been criticized by some countries for making “ambiguous” claims on the islands, islets, reefs and waters in the South China Sea. For example, it has been criticized for “failing to honor” the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea despite being a signatory to it, as well as for “violating” other international laws on the sea.

A few international observers also accuse China of deliberately obscuring its territorial claims in the South China Sea by using terms not found in the UNCLOS, such as “adjacent waters” and “relevant waters”. And some countries keep demanding that China “clarify” its nine-dash line map.

The fact is that, if these countries do not change their mindset and attitude, the nine-dash line will continue to be vague for them irrespective of how clearly China defines it.

China has an unequivocal and consistent territorial claim on the islands and other land features in the South China Sea. As a matter of fact, it has unequivocally stated its claim in three official documents: the 1947 Location Map of the South China Sea Islands released by the Kuomingtang government in Nanjing, the 1958 Declaration of the Government of New China on the Territorial Sea and the 1992 Law on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone. These documents state that the Dongsha Islands, Xisha Islands, Zhongsha Islands, Nansha Islands and other islands are part of the sovereign territory of China.

Some countries view China’s maritime claim in the South China Sea as ambiguous because of certain historical reasons. The first reason is that the UNCLOS does not properly address the issue of historic rights. Despite the reference to historic title in Articles 15 and 298(1)(a), the provision on historic bays in Article 15(6), and the recognition of traditional fishing rights in Article 51, it does not have any provision for the definition of historic rights or their specific connotation and denotation.

The second is that no consistent understanding has been reached in international law on historic rights. For example, Yehuda Z. Blum, an Israeli professor of law and diplomat, has observed: The term “historic rights” denotes the possession by a state, over certain land or maritime areas, of rights that would not normally accrue to it under the general rules of international law, such rights having been acquired by that state through a process of historical consolidation … Historic rights are a product of a lengthy process comprising a long series of acts, omissions and patterns of behavior which, in their entirety, and through their cumulative effect, bring such rights into being and consolidate them into rights valid in international law.

Besides, a state acquires historic rights through effective exercise of these rights (long series of acts, omissions and patterns of behavior) by one or more states, a practice followed by relevant states. The concept of historic rights is almost equivalent to that of historic water.

In this vein, Leo Bouchez, a renowned international law professor, says the concept of “historic rights” has evolved from the concept of “historic water” and “historic bays”. The development from “historic bays” to “historic water” and from “historic title” to “historic rights” indicates the evolution of legal concepts with the development of state practice, and that such concepts have not been finalized.

From the point of view of China, one of the world’s oldest civilizations, the South China Sea is part of the traditional Asian order and, hence, it would be inappropriate to comprehend the nine-dash line by relying solely on the Westphalian nation-state system.

As Keyuan Zou, Harris professor of International Law at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, has observed, the South China Sea nine-dash line map was officially released by the Chinese Kuomingtang government half a century before the UNCLOS, and one decade before the 1958 Four Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea. Thus, China’s historic rights within the nine-dash line cannot be ignored. The nine-dash line drawn by the Chinese government in 1947, at approximately the median position between China’s South China Sea islands and reefs and the coastlines of bordering states, reflects the scope of China’s claims. The consistency of the claims has been maintained by China after 1949, and the claims have been recognized or acquiesced to by bordering states over a long period of time. Therefore, the nine-dash line has probative force and weight under international law.

The so-called ambiguity in China’s nine-dash line map and its claim on the waters within that line mainly stems from the imperfection of the UNCLOS. To some extent, international law on historic rights is defective in theory and doctrine and lacks a unified standard.

China has been striving to clarify its claim in the South China Sea. But the joint efforts of the international community are also needed to complement and improve the UNCLOS by agreeing to a new international convention or protocol in order to clarify the understanding of historic rights.

The author is deputy director of Maritime Security Institute at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai. The views expressed are personal. His most recent book is Legal Interpretation of China’s South China Sea Map: An Inclusive Approach to Ocean Public Order.

– By Zheng Zhihua (China Daily)

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One Response to “China rejects arbitration tribunal South China Sea ruling ; History backs China in sea disputes”

  1. rightways Says:

    It is not a matter of evidence which China has to present, assuming it had intentions to attend stupid!

    The primary defence would be jurisdiction. Contrary evidence as per the PH claim would not be tactically necessary. Given its perfectly normal for countries not to attend and given the caveats 99.9 % of all countries have signed in relation to the treaty and the powers of UNCLOS or lack of it. China indeed has the perfect and legal right not to attend. Japan wishes to take South Korea to the AT,on”Dukdo” SK has refused & will not attend..is SK a rogue state as well because it will not attend?

    A default judgement scenario, meaning only one country attending is unlikely to proceed further even with the proviso that the AT court can hear a single litigant present. The actual brief the PH has presented to the AT may look like a whole piece of cheese but has enough holes to qualify it as Swiss Cheese.

    “The international arbitration procedure must be agreed by both parties.

    If China rejects participating, the arbitration will not work,” Ji noted that the international tribunal is most likely to withdraw the Philippines’ case. “It will be a wise decision for the international tribunal as it lacks power to enforce. Even if the tribunal makes a judgement by default, China will not accept its verdict,” Ji said. “The tribunal may lose its credibility.”

    For the Arbitral Tribunal to attempt a default judgement in this case is suicide inter alia!
    Give it a couple of years or less for my prediction to become reality!

    Let me please enlighten you on something.

    The Filipinos did not want independence, it was the Americans that forced independence on the Flips and for good financial, political reasons.

    Take Puerto Rico and Hawaii, Guam, what do they all have in common?

    Answer:..” a small population”!

    The Americans could see the Filipinos would breed like Rabbits nearly 100 million and rising in a small abjectly poor country “Plus Lazy”) would put such a strain on US taxpayers America could never afford it!

    The Americans thought, My Gosh!…America will go broke if we had to sustain
    millions of people with, pensions, social security, limited healthcare
    and infrastructure, roads water electricity for NO gain!
    So the American forced independence on the Ph out of financial necessity while controlling the landed gentry. The US appointed US puppets to run and plunder the country as they wished, provided they followed what ever Overlord USA said, a model taken out of the South American play book at the time!..Sadly these dumb Flips have not figured even this historical truth out..EVEN TODAY!

    Like


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