Day 2 at The Hague: China hit for interfering with fishing in disputed sea
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - November 26, 2015 - 12:24am

MANILA, Philippines - During the second day of the hearing on the merits of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, the Philippines focused on China's deprivation of fishing and exploration rights.

China's aggressive assertion of exclusive rights in their so-called nine-dash line deprives fishing and exploration in the region.

The Philippine delegation argued that China's construction activities in the region destroy the sea bed.

Counsel Andrew Loewenstein argued that China's claim is "hopeless and indefensible" as none of the three conditions to establish historic rights are present in China's case, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement.

He pointed out that China's construction activities in the region violate the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Meanwhile, Professor Philippe Sands pointed out that the reefs being claimed by China - Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, Subi Reef, Mckennan Reef and Gaven Reef - are low tide elevations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Under the UNCLOS, these reefs are not entitled to its own territorial sea, EEZ or continental shelf.

Sands added that China's construction activities in the features cannot be the basis of additional maritime entitlements. He also discussed China's interference with the Philippine's exercise of sovereign rights in its EEZ.

"Sands gave as examples several incidents involving service contracts given by the Department of Energy wherein the private companies were prevented from exploration," Valte said.

The fishing ban that China's Ministry of Agriculture implemented in some areas covered by the Philippines's EEZ was also discussed.

Counsel Lawrence Martin stressed the UNCLOS provision that an island must be capable of sustaining human habitation and economic life for it to be considered an island.

The features in the Spratly group of islands are classified as rocks and cannot have maritime entitlements, Martin said.

Martin showed a map which dates to 1784, proving that Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines.

On the other hand, principal counsel Paul Richler proved that no civilian settlements were established on the features in the Spratlys as they are not capable of sustaining human habitation.

The second day of the oral arguments of the hearing on merits was concluded through a video simulation showing the tribunal how a machine used by China in its construction activities destroyed the sea bed.

China still refuses to participate in the arbitration case and maintained that it has indisputable sovereignty over the disputed sea.

"China has expounded on many occasions its position that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines and that China will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration. This position is clear and consistent," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press conference on Wednesday.

RELATED: Day 1 at The Hague: Philippines hits China's lack of basis on claims

ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL CHINA CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON HONG LEI COUNSEL ANDREW LOEWENSTEIN COUNSEL LAWRENCE MARTIN DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY DEPUTY PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABIGAIL VALTE LAW OF THE SEA MCKENNAN REEF AND GAVEN REEF PHILIPPINES QUOT
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