Justice Carpio urges int’l court to void China’s 9-dash line

/ 04:41 PM June 09, 2015

THE Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration should rule that China’s nine-dash line is invalid otherwise the world economy will be affected, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.

“If the dispute flares up, world economy will be in danger because more than one half of the seaborne trade of the world passes thru the South China Sea and this dispute, if it flares up, it affects the entire world,” Carpio said in an interview with Mario Esteban of the Elcano Royal Institute in Madrid, Spain as part of his series of lectures on the West Philippine Sea in Europe.


Carpio said a ruling by the arbitral tribunal favorable to Manila would reduce the area of the conflict from the entire South China Sea to the islands, which he added, could be managed by claimant countries.

“If the Tribunal will declare the nine-dash line as void, therefore, China cannot claim as sovereign territorial waters the entire South China Sea. It will have to limit its claim to the islands and the 12-nautical mile territorial sea. So that will drastically reduce the area of the conflict from the entire South China Sea to the islands and that kind of conflict over small islands can be managed,” Carpio said.


“Our problem now is China claims the entire South China Sea, and that is a problem for our fishermen because these are their traditional fishing grounds, and if they go there now they will be water cannoned. So if we have a favorable ruling, the area of the dispute will be reduced considerably and we can leave on that kind of dispute,” he added.

He explained that if the nine-dash line were allowed to stand by the Tribunal, then  it would have far-reaching consequences since other countries may use it to claim entire seas in their region.

“If the Tribunal will allow the nine-dash line to stand, then the law of the sea, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will not apply in the South China Sea. If it can’t apply in the South China Sea, it cannot apply in other seas or oceans because other naval powers will demand the same rights as China. We cannot create an exemption because naval powers will also demand an exemption. Why is China alone being given an entire sea? India will claim the Indian Ocean. I think we will go back to the 1200, the 1300, 1400 or the 1500 where nations try to claim the oceans and seas as their own,” he said.

The nine-dash-line is a map showing a U-shaped line enclosing almost the whole of the South China Sea which China claims belongs to them. The map has been widely protested by several countries including the Philippines and criticized in the international community.

Carpio pointed out that claiming the entire oceans and seas are outdated which has been settled in the 1600 between two great scholars, Hugo Grotius and John Selden.

He said maritime territorial disputes are now governed by UNCLOS signed by 165 countries, including the Philippines and China.

He added that the UNCLOS is very clear in that countries are only entitled to 12 nautical miles territorial sea and additional Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical and at most, 150 nautical miles of continental shelf.


With this, he said “no one country can claim the entire sea.”

“That’s all over now, that idea in the 1600 that the world has rejected and China is reviving today,” he further said.

Next month, there will be an oral argument on the issue raised by China that the Permanent Arbitration Court has no jurisdiction to act on the Philippine government’s complain against the People’s Republic of China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Next month, the Arbitral Tribunal will conduct a hearing to address the objections to jurisdiction set out in China’s Position Paper. The Arbitral Tribunal will also consider other matters concerning its jurisdiction and the admissibility of the Philippines’ claims. The Arbitral Court is expected to issue a ruling by August or September.

Then, Carpio said another hearing will be conducted in November and the court is expected to rule on the merits in the first quarter of 2016.

The Philippines took China to the arbitral tribunal in January 2013 as it challenged the legality of the latter’s nine dash line claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, including areas included in the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

China’s sweeping claims over the South China and its aggressive stance, including the reclamation activities in Kagitingan, Zamora and Panganiban Reefs as well as the building of artificial islets over Mabini, Burgos, Calderon and Kennar Reefs had rattled the nerves of other claimant countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam. AC

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TAGS: 9-dash line, Features, Global Nation, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
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