OpinionsEcon 101China’s claim and intl law

China’s claim and intl law

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The Permanent Court of Arbitration, a tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), had issued an award in favor of the Philippines seven years ago on July 12, 2016, during the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China, determining that China’s claims — including its nine-dash line, land reclamation activities, and other activities in Philippine waters — are unlawful.

Predictably, China reacted negatively to the ruling, maintaining it was “null and void”.

Recently, Defense Sec.  Gilbert Teodoro Jr. declared that the 10-dash line shown in the 2023 edition of Beijing’s standard national map is unequivocal proof of its expansionist policy in the South China Sea — to dominate the entire South China Sea, and perhaps beyond.

The extent to which China abides by the ruling, which the international community supports and seeks to enforce, will have consequences for the utility of international law as a tool to ensure the peaceful, stable, and lawful use of the seas going forward.

Chinese officials and their state-affiliated media have in recent years advanced that the arbitral tribunal’s proceedings constitute a violation, or are outside the jurisdiction of UNCLOS.

If the ruling fails to alter China’s behavior in the longer term, it would send a signal to the rest of the world that adherence to international law is optional.

This would degrade the viability of international maritime law as a tool to ensure the peaceful, stable, and lawful use of the seas.

Aside from the Philippines, other countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan have also protested the latest development in the map by China which previously featured a nine-dash line that virtually claimed the entire South China Sea.

In addition, China has established an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), an airspace of a country, plus an additional wider area over land and water in which it tries to identify, locate, and control any civil aircraft in the interest of national security.

China’s actual enforcement of its ADIZ — which would necessitate a more capable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance network, and the presence of radar systems and advanced military aircraft on its reclaimed land features — could pose tactical, logistical, and operational challenges: a potential uptick in dangerous mid-air encounters between Chinese and foreign aircraft; uncertainty for foreign government, military, and commercial pilots who need to navigate crowded airspace with several overlapping air traffic authorities; and the expansion of China’s ability to collect intelligence on U.S. and other forces in the region.

During the ASEAN conference in Jakarta, President BBM rejected “misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two powerful countries, as it is not a proxy war because the United States is not our only ally; Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and India have emerged as allies.

Everyone agrees that the dispute must be resolved diplomatically and peacefully. Peace!

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Author’s email: whelmayap@yahoo.com

 

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