An arbitration court has ruled China has no historic title to claim the waters of the South China Sea. The tribunal also found that China has breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its recent actions. China, which boycotted the hearings at the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague dismissed the findings a “as farce” and claimed they would ignore the tribunals warnings and defend it’s sovereignty and maritime interests with armed forces.
Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued a statement following the ruling calling on China and the Philippines to abiding by the ruling which she called “final and binding on both parties.” She went on to state:
Adherence to international law is the foundation for peace, stability and prosperity in East Asia, as it has for many years,
Politicians from all countries view the decision as an important test case to see how the region can manage disputes peacefully.
Prior to the decision China’s tate-run Xinhua news agency announced that a new guided missile destroyer was formally commissioned at a naval base on the southern island province of Hainan and would be responsible for the South China Sea. The paper also said that Chinese civilian aircraft successfully carried out calibration tests on two new airports on the disputed Spratly Islands. The Chinese also ended a series of war games the day before the ruling was announced, which has been viewed as an intimidation tactic by the Chinese.
China has claimed most of the waters that see approximately $5 trillion a year in ship-borne trade. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims. The panel found that China interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights and had breached the Philippines sovereign rights by searching for oil in the area.
China claimed the area by claiming its people had more than 2,000 years of history in the South China Sea and that it had announced it’s “dotted line” or “nine-dash” map to the world in 1948 which entitles the nation to the area.
Ian Storey, of Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, stated he believes the Chinese will
respond with fury, certainly in terms of rhetoric and possibly through more aggressive actions at sea
He went on to call the ruling a devastating legal blow to China’s jurisdictional claims. The court has no power to enforce the ruling but believe the victory for the Philippines could spur Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei to file similar cases against the Chinese.