The verdict: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) — The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) under the United Nations ruled in favor of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.
The Hague-based international tribunal ruled that China's nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters is invalid.
"[A]s between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention," the award read.
The international tribunal found that it has jurisdiction to consider the dispute between the Philippines and China concerning historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.
The tribunal pointed out that there was no evidence that China has exercised exclusive control over the disputed waters or its resources.
"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 PCA said in a press release issued on Tuesday.
The arbitral tribunal also ruled that the features occupied by China in the Spratly Islands are not capable of generating maritime zones as the reefs have been heavily modified by reclamation and construction.
"Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 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," the PCA statement read.

The PCA found that China violated the Philippines's sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by:
  • interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration
  • constructing artificial islands
  • failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone
The international tribunal also held that China interfered with the rights of Filipino fishermen by restricting access at Scarborough Shoal.
"Tribunal also found that Chinese authorities were aware that Chinese fishermen have harvested endangered sea turtles, coral, and giant clams on a substantial scale in the South China Sea (using methods that inflict severe damage on the coral reef environment) and had not fulfilled their obligations to stop such activities," the tribunal said.
The tribunal found that China's massive land reclamation activities in the region aggravated the dispute as it has inflicted irreparable harm to the marine environment and built an artificial island in the Philippines's EEZ.
The Philippines was the first country to challenge China's expansive claims over the disputed waters.
In October 2015, the UN tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction to consider the Philippines's claims over the disputed sea and whether the claims are admissible.
China has insisted that it will not respect the decision of the international tribunal and claimed that the arbitration case initiated by the Philippines under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III was illegal from the beginning.

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