PH wins arbitration case over South China Sea

By: - NewsLab Lead / @MSantosINQ
/ 05:05 PM July 12, 2016
United Nations Arbitral Tribunal Hague Philippines vs China maritime dispute West Philippines Sea South China Sea.

The Philippine delegation argues its case against China’s “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea before the International tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Photo: Permanent Court of Arbitration

It has finally been decided that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid, according to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

READ: Key points of the arbitral tribunal’s verdict on Philippines vs China case


The PCA issued its award Tuesday after several months of hearings and submission of documents. China was absent throughout the proceedings, refusing to recognize the case.

“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,” the statement released to the media said.


“Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, 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,” it added.

BACKSTORY: The heart of the dispute over the West PH Sea

The Tribunal also said that China has violated Philippine sovereign rights.

“Having found that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the Tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone,” the tribunal statement said.

“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.”

“The Tribunal further held that Chinese law enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels,” it said.

READ: China’s ‘nine-dash line, historic rights’ invalid–tribunal

The Spratly Islands and its many reefs are being claimed by China under its “nine-dash line” claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea including parts of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).


China insists it has “historic rights” in asserting its ownership of the region believed to be rich in natural gas resources and also a vital trade route for international cargo ships.

READ: China: We are the victims in dispute; won’t heed UN decision

The Philippines filed its case in January 2013 following a tense standoff between Chinese and Philippines ships at Scarborough Shoal in April 2012.

Since the initiation of the arbitration case, China has conducted several massive reclamation projects to turn submerged reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military structures and equipment.

China’s reclamation activities have alarmed other Southeast Asian nations, particularly Vietnam, that also have competing claims in the South China Sea. JE/rga

IN PHOTOS: China’s reclamation in West Philippine Sea


UNCLOS explained: Why China’s claims in South China Sea are invalid

FULL TEXT: DFA chief Del Rosario’s speech at UN tribunal

Maritime affairs expert separates facts from fiction on Scarborough Shoal

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: arbitration case, China, ITLOS, maritime dispute, Philippines, Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, tribunal decision, Unclos, United Nations, West Philippine Sea
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.