Published: Wed, July 13, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Tribunal rejects Beijing's South China Sea claims

The United States, which has been at odds with China over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, urged all parties "to avoid provocative statements and actions". However, they said that they tried to take China's position into account on the basis of its diplomatic correspondence and its statements. "China neither accepts nor recognises it".

The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that China's claims in the South China Sea were without basis surprised military and global relations experts on the mainland, who said Beijing would resort to "diplomatic and military means to defend its sovereignty" in the region.

The Tribunal concluded that China's doesn't have the right to marine resources within its "nine dash line", which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90% of the disputed waters.

China's Foreign Ministry comprehensively rejected the ruling, saying its people had more than 2 000 years of history in the South China Sea, that its islands did have exclusive economic zones and that it had announced to the world its "dotted line" map in 1948. It noted that China's building of artificial islands had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment", violating their obligation to preserve threatened and endangered species. The diplomat also said that China's description of the "Final Award" on the case as "null and void" is on "expected lines".

The decision by the tribunal is non-binding on the ROC since the court did not invite the ROC to participate in the proceedings and did not consult with Taiwan before handing down the decision.

The tussle surrounding the claims over the waters of the South China Sea and its resources have been raging for centuries. It also made clear that China's recent land-reclamation activity, turning submerged or otherwise uninhabitable reefs into artificial islands with airstrips or other facilities, confers no new rights to the surrounding waters or any authority to exclude others from sailing or flying nearby. Duterte has spoken of having friendlier relations with China and said last week his government stood ready to talk to Beijing if it got a favorable ruling.

Tokyo, however, is more anxious China will also take action in the neighboring East China Sea where Asia's two biggest economies are locked in a separate territorial dispute.

From invalidating the "nine-dash line" that defined China's claims to more than 80 percent of the waterway to reprimands over harassment of fishermen, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague undermined the country's position in nearly every area Tuesday. "This ruling delivers justice for all of them as well", Leonen said.

"As a small state, we strongly support the maintenance of a rules-based order that upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states".

China has rejected the jurisdiction of the panel that ruled that there is no legal basis for China's historic claims.

China has summoned its demobilized sailors and officers for training drills, state media have confirmed, in exercises that apparently started just days ahead of a tribunal ruling on China's expansive claims to the South China Sea.

He also called on "all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety".

Mr. Yasay's statement was "too subdued", said Richard J. Heydarian, a foreign policy expert from the De La Salle University.

"It's really devastating for China", said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

The arbitral ruling concerning the claim is scheduled to be issued at July 12, 2016, in The Hague, Netherlands.

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