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John Ethan G.

Tenorio
6-Righteousness

Debate between China and Philippines over West Philippines Sea

The Philippines filed a complaint in 2013 after China took control of a reef about 140 miles from the Philippine coast. It accused
China of violating international law by interfering with fishing, endangering ships and failing to protect the marine environment
at the reef, known as Scarborough Shoal.

But the Philippines also went further, asking an international tribunal to reject China’s claim to sovereignty over waters within a
“nine-dash line” that appears on official Chinese maps. The dashes encircle as much as 90 percent of the South China Sea, an
area the size of Mexico that is vital to global trade and rich in natural resources, including potential oil deposits.

The Philippines also accused China of violating international law by dredging sand to build artificial islands out of several reefs in
the South China Sea, including one it says is in its waters.

The tribunal largely agreed, declaring that there was “no legal basis” for the nine-dash line and concluding that China had
unlawfully built an artificial island in Philippine waters.

The Philippines filed its complaint under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which lays out rules for the use
of the world’s oceans. The treaty came into force in 1994 and has been ratified by both China and the Philippines, as well as 165
other states and the European Union.

The treaty says a country has sovereignty over waters extending 12 nautical miles from its coast, and control over economic
activities in waters on its continental shelf and up to 200 nautical miles from its coast, including fishing, mining, oil exploration
and the construction of artificial islands.

The treaty sets out detailed rules for defining these zones, what to do when two nations’ zones overlap and how to resolve
disputes.

China’s nine-dash line includes waters beyond these zones, and Beijing has cited what it calls historical evidence to support it.

But the tribunal rejected that argument, saying any historic rights that China enjoyed previously “were extinguished” by the
treaty. The tribunal also said that while Chinese navigators and fishermen had historically used islands in the sea, there was no
evidence Beijing had ever exercised exclusive authority over the waters or their resources.

China has boycotted the international tribunal that was set up to hear the case.

It says the panel of five judges and legal experts has no jurisdiction because the sovereignty of reefs, rocks and islands in the
South China Sea is disputed.

The argument goes like this: If you don’t know what countries these specks of land belong to, you can’t use the treaty to draw
territorial and economic zones in the waters around them. And the judges can’t decide whom the specks of land belong to
because the Law of the Sea deals only with maritime disputes, not land disputes.

The argument goes like this: If you don’t know what countries these specks of land belong to, you can’t use the treaty to draw
territorial and economic zones in the waters around them. And the judges can’t decide whom the specks of land belong to
because the Law of the Sea deals only with maritime disputes, not land disputes.

The Philippines shall not tolerate such lies (reversing the issue against Filipino fishermen) like those pushed by China in the 2013
arbitration case, where the tribunal (Permanent Court of Arbitration) debunked China’s claim of ownership to over 85.7% of
enclosed water under the nine-dash line. In the long run, we have to push for the Code of Conduct that was long overdue since
2017 when it was first discussed at the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines along with other member states. This is vital for the
security of the commercial fishing industry, the environment, and most especially our human capita (our fellow and beloved
Filipino fishermen).
Indeed, the Philippines has consistently aired the issues through multilateral means while China prefers bilateral negotiation. In
other words, China has always opted for one-on-one talks to manage tensions without external forces to meddle in-between.
For us, China’s international security activism coupled with maritime gray zone operations will continue to be provide a
challenge in the multipolar global order.