Date
19 January 2017
Activists in Manila release balloons and chant slogans during a rally Tuesday in relation to South China Sea disputes. Photo: Reuters
Activists in Manila release balloons and chant slogans during a rally Tuesday in relation to South China Sea disputes. Photo: Reuters

Beijing’s South China Sea claims unfounded, says Hague tribunal

An international tribunal on Tuesday rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China Sea, dealing a victory to Philippines which took the matter to court.

“There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’,” the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said Tuesday, referring to a demarcation line on a 1947 map of the sea.

In the 497-page ruling, judges also found that Chinese law enforcement patrols had risked colliding with Philippine fishing vessels in parts of the sea and caused irreparable damage to coral reefs with construction work, Reuters reported.

China, which boycotted the case, has said it will not be bound by any ruling.

The case was brought by the Philippines, which had argued that China’s claims don’t comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

While the court says the ruling is binding, it lacks a mechanism for enforcement, Bloomberg News noted.

China reacted angrily to the verdict, with the official Xinhua news agency denouncing the ruling as “ill-founded” and that it was “null and void”.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted the defense ministry as saying that Chinese troops will “unswervingly safeguard state sovereignty, security, maritime rights and interests”.

The Philippines launched a case after China’s coast guard seized the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

Beijing declined to submit formal documentation in defense of its claims, though it filed a position paper in December 2014 arguing the Philippine submission was a sovereignty dispute and outside the court’s jurisdiction, Bloomberg noted.

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