International Court rules against China over South China sea issue
A UN-backed international tribunal today struck down China’s claims of “historical rights” in the strategic South China Sea, prompting Chinese President Xi Jinping to reject its ruling and asserting that Beijing will not accept the verdict “under any circumstances”.
Xi’s strong remarks came immediately after The Hague- based tribunal dismissed the core of China’s claims over the 90 per cent South China Sea (SCS), ruling that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line'”, which is based on a Chinese map dating back to the 1940s.
In his meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist party and commander-in-chief of the military, said China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in SCS will not be affected by the ruling under any circumstances.
Xi’s comments indicates China’s tough stand on the ruling by the five judge tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration which struck down Beijing’s controversial nine- dash line on the SCS claiming over 90 per cent of the area.
China “neither accepts nor recognises” the ruling of the tribunal in the SCS arbitration established at the request of the Philippines, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in Beijing.
“The award is null and void and has no binding force,” it said in a statement minutes after the tribunal delivered its judgement striking down Beijing’s claims of historic rights over the area, strongly disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the SCS shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards, the statement quoted by state-run Xinhua new agency said.
The tribunal concluded that “to the extent China had historic rights to resources in the waters of the SCS, such rights were extinguished to the extent they were incompatible with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the Convention” (UN Convention on the Law of Seas), it said.
“The tribunal also noted that, although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other States, had historically made use of the islands in the SCS, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources,” it said.
For decades China, which boycotted the tribunal questioning its legality has been asserting that its emperors have discovered the islands hundreds years ago and have been exercising control over the area throughout the history.
But is claims came into conflict with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan as they hardly have exclusive economic zones (EEZ) provided by UNCLOS which Beijing declined to recognise.
While the Philippines filed the case in 2013, Beijing’s claims over the SCS are also contested by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Indonesia as well.