Manila has no leg to stand on
Updated: 2016-05-20 08:21
(China Daily Europe)
The Philippines' attempt to seek unilateral arbitration on what is clearly a bilateral territorial issue is more an attempt to muddy the waters than a case based on law, analysts say. By accepting the case, the arbitral tribunal has worsened tensions between the two countries, destabilizing regional and international maritime order, and contradicted its purpose of peacefully settling disputes, Chinese officials and some international experts have said. China has every right to not participate in, or accept, arbitration; and its stance has won wide support internationally. Following is a summary of the case they have set out over the South China Sea disputes.
Why the Philippines' unilateral initiation of the arbitration case violates international law
"Pacta sunt servanda" (agreements must be kept) is a basic principle of international law. China and the Philippines previously reached agreement in bilateral documents on resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation. Unilaterally initiating the arbitration case and ignoring the previous agreement violates international law.
The unilateral initiation of the arbitration case is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and an abuse of arbitral procedures provided for by UNCLOS. Given the fact that China and the Philippines made a clear choice on the means and procedures of settling their disputes, third-party settlement procedures provided for in UNCLOS do not apply.
Territorial issues are subject to general international law, not UNCLOS. The declaration on optional exceptions China made in 2006 in accordance with Article 298 of UNCLOS excludes disputes concerning maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, as well as military and law enforcement activities from the dispute settlement procedures provided for in UNCLOS. About 30 countries have made similar declarations, which form an integral part of UNCLOS.
Why China will not accept the ruling or participate in the arbitration case
The compulsory settlement procedure provided for in UNCLOS does not apply to the disputes between China and the Philippines. The arbitral tribunal set up, therefore, has no jurisdiction. Its forceful handling of the case and exercise of jurisdiction is a willful expansion and abuse of power by its nature.
The arbitral tribunal has violated UNCLOS and expanded and abused its power at will by hearing the case and exercising jurisdiction. The acts of the arbitral tribunal have worsened the tensions between the two countries, affected the stability of regional and international maritime order, and contradicted its purpose of peaceful settlement of international disputes.
Other nations that made declarations on optional exceptions did not accept or participate in arbitration and neither will China.
The arbitration is a political farce and provocation under the guise of international law.
What is wrong with the United States concept of "freedom of navigation and overflight"
There has never been any incident affecting freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea as 16,000 vessels make passage through it every year.
However, by playing up the issue, the U.S. is actually pursuing a hidden agenda.
By alleging that its massive military presence in the South China Sea is essential for freedom of navigation and overflight, the US is attempting to take all the credit on the international stage for ensuring something that is not threatened.
The US is portraying China's growing military strength as a major threat to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and ratcheting up the bogus "China threat".
The US is creating an excuse to meddle in the South China Sea and bolster its global strategy and maritime hegemony. Politically, the US wants to create and hype up tensions in the South China Sea. Militarily, it looks for legal grounds for close-in reconnaissance activities off the coasts of relevant countries.
(China Daily European Weekly 05/20/2016 page14)