Claiming our sovereign rights in WPS – a guide for present and future generation
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2018 - 12:00am

(Part I)

During the launching of his eBook “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” last May 4, 2017, Justice Antonio Carpio hailed DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario as a true Filipino patriot, who filed the landmark arbitration case against China together with our foreign service officials who never fail to advance, promote and protect our national interest. He also thanked the Supreme Court for allowing him to take leave, en banc to travel to Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, the neighboring countries affected by the disputes the South China Sea.

Last Nov. 24, as keynote speaker of the first general assembly of Akademyang Filipino, an organization whose members include National Artists, National Scientists and the country’s Ramon Magsaysay awardees Law of the Sea advocates stressed, “We all have one common purpose – to DEFEND, PROTECT and PRESERVE Philippine maritime entitlement in the West Philippine Sea.”

Three fold purpose of the e-book

First, the eBook is intended to inform the Filipino people about the vast maritime areas and rich natural resources that they own in the West Philippine Sea under international law. Once the Filipino people realize that these maritime areas and resources belong to them and to future generations of Filipinos, as affirmed with finality by a United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral tribunal, then the Filipino people will never allow any government administration, any government agency, or any government official to give away or compromise these maritime areas or resources in favor of a foreign state in violation of the Constitution.

Second, this eBook is intended to inform other coastal states of the world that it is in their national interest to help the Philippines protect Philippine maritime entitlements. That is why Vietnamese, Indonesian, Japanese and Spanish versions of this eBook has been released. For if China can grab for itself the maritime entitlements of the Philippines in violation of international law, then other coastal states may also lose their maritime entitlements to their more powerful neighboring states. This would end the rule of law in the oceans and seas of our planet.

Third, this eBook is intended to convince the Chinese people that the nine-dash line has no legal or historical basis. That is why a Mandarin version of this eBook has been released.  

China’s grand design

China’s grand design is to control the South China Sea for economic and military purposes. China wants all the fishery, oil, gas and mineral resources within the nine-dash line. In the 1990s, China was taking only 20 percent of the annual fish catch in the South China Sea. Today, China is taking 50 percent of the annual fish catch in the South China Sea as more than 80 percent of its coastal waters are already polluted. China has the largest fishing fleet in the world, with some 220,000 sea-going vessels, about 2,600 of which go all the way to East Africa. China’s fish consumption is the highest in the world considering its 1.4 billion population.

China is the largest net importer of petroleum in the world. China wants the lion’s share of the oil and gas in the South China Sea. The Chinese estimates that the South China Sea holds 130 billion barrels of oil, and if this is correct, the South China Sea has more oil than either Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates. A reserve of 130 billion barrels of oil can supply China’s oil needs for 22 years. The South China Sea is also rich in methane hydrates – said to be one of the fuels of the future. China wants to secure all these methane hydrates, which can fuel China’s economy for 130 years.

China also wants the South China Sea as a sanctuary for its nuclear-armed submarines – free from surveillance by US submarine-hunting Poseidon aircraft or US nuclear powered attack submarines. China wants a second-strike nuclear capability, joining the ranks of the US and Russia. A second-strike capability means a nuclear power, after its land-based nuclear weapons are obliterated in a pre-emptive first-strike by nuclear-armed enemy, it can still retaliate with its nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines. This second-strike capability deters an enemy from making a pre-emptive first strike.

Illegal reclamations and harvesting of endangered species

The coral reefs in the Spratlys serve as the breeding ground of fish in the South China Sea. It comprise 34 percent of the world’s total coral reefs, despite the South China Sea occupying only 2.5 percent of world’s total ocean and sea surface. Coral reefs are the single most valuable ecosystem – a hectare of reef can produce a potential value of approximately $350,000 a year.

From 2014 to 2016, China deployed dozens of dredgers in the Spratlys. The rotating cutters of these dredgers pulverized the coral reef and the hard sediment on the seabed. The pulverized materials are pushed by pressure through a floating pipe and deposited on the rim of the reef. This kills all the coral reefs in the atoll. Dr. McManus, a marine biologist who has studied the marine life in the Spratlys, made a survey in February 2016 said “China’s reclamations are the most rapid permanent loss of coral reef in human history. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to do this. It was really a massive destruction.”

The nine-dash line claim of China drilled into the Chinese

In December 1947, the Kuomintang Government of China adopted the nine-dash line claim, embodied in the Location Map of the South Sea Islands, released in China, February 1948, with 11 dashes forming a broken U-shaped line covering almost the entire South China Sea. The title of the map indicates China’s claim of the islands enclosed by the eleven dashes, namely Pratas, Paracels, Macclesfield Bank, and Spratlys. China was silent on any claim to the surrounding waters.  Scarborough Shoal is not mentioned in the map. Macclesfield Bank is not an island because it is fully submerged. In 1950, China under communist rule, announced the removal of two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin. The line became known as the nine-dash line.

Once the Chinese people realize the falsity of the nine-dash line, they themselves will be too ashamed to press the nine-dash line claim before the world. That will be the time when the Chinese government can comply with the ruling of the arbitral tribunal.

(Part II – “China’s Militarization of the South China Sea”)

(Ref: “The South China Sea Dispute…” eBook by Antonio T. Carpio)

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with