Philippines v. China

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Philippines v. China
Permanent Court of Arbitration - Cour permanente d'arbitrage.svg
Court Permanent Court of Arbitration
Full case name Arbitration between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China
Court membership
Judges sitting

Ghana Thomas A. Mensah

France Jean-Pierre Cot
Germany Rüdiger Wolfrum
Netherlands Alfred H. Soons
Poland Stanislaw Pawlak

Philippines v. China is a pending arbitration case concerning the legality of China's nine-dotted line claim over the South China Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[1][2]


The dispute originated after Japan renounced all claims to the Spratly Islands but did not leave a successor when it ratified the Treaty of San Francisco. This left the islands open for occupation by virtue of terra nullius.[3]

Beijing claims it is entitled to the Paracel and Spratly island chains because for 2,000 years they were seen as integral parts of the Chinese Empire.[4] In 1947, the Republic of China produced a map showing its claims over the islands. Today, China and the Republic of China have these same territorial claims.[4]

Vietnam states that the islands have belonged to it since the 17th century, using historical documents of ownership as evidence.[4]

The other party who makes a claim on the area is the Philippines. The Philippines base their claim on the geographical proximity of the Spratly Islands to internationally recognized Philippine territory.[4]

In 1956, the dispute escalated after Tomas Cloma and his followers settled on the islands and declared the territory as "Freedomland", now known as Kalayaan, in favor of occupation by the Philippines. China and Vietnam protested Cloma's claims as invalid. During the next two decades, the claimants begin to occupy the islands and divide the territory amongst themselves.[5]

Vietnam began to occupy the westernmost islands claiming that it has ruled them since the 17th century.[4] The Philippines also formalized its claims stating that it owns the islands through geographic proximity, particularly because much of the islands lay within the continental shelf of the country. Meanwhile, Taiwan took control of the largest island.[5]

In the early 1970s, Malaysia joined the dispute by claiming the islands nearest to them.[6] Brunei also extended its Exclusive Economic Zone, claiming Louisa Reef.[6]

Dispute over arbitration[edit]

China refuses to participate in the arbitration, claiming that the Philippines had "no legal grounds" on the filing of the case. China accused the Philippines of violating the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, made by ASEAN and China.[7][8] China's refusal will not prevent the Permanent Court of Arbitration from proceeding with the case.[9]

Related claims[edit]

In May 2009, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Vietnam alone, filed claims to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea with regard to the islands. This was in relation to extending their claimed continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones. The People's Republic of China rejected the claims since those violate the "nine-dotted line". The Philippines challenged them, stating that the claims overlap with the North Borneo dispute. Indonesia made a comment on China's claim by saying that the features are rocks and cannot sustain life, effectively calling its claim invalid. The Philippines echoed Indonesia's claims, further stating that the islands belong to them through geographic proximity. China and Vietnam rejected the Philippines' claim.[10][11]

Brunei sent its own claim through a preliminary submission.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Republic of the Philippines v. The People's Republic of China". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  2. ^ Del Cappar, Michaela (April 25, 2013). "ITLOS completes five-man tribunal that will hear PHL case vs. China". GMA News One. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Treaty of Peace with Japan". Taiwan Documents Project. 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.  See also: United Nations Treaty Series 1952 (reg. no. 1832), vol. 136, pp. 45–164.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Q&A: South China Sea dispute". BBC News. May 15, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Spratly Islands Conflicting Claims". Global Security. 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Valencia, Mark J.; Van Dyke, Jon M.; Ludwig, Noel A. (1999). Sharing the Resources of the South China Sea. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 36–38. ISBN 9780824818814. 
  7. ^ Torode, Greg (2013-09-27). "Philippines South China Sea legal case against China gathers pace". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  8. ^ "China rejects arbitration on disputed islands in S.China Sea CCTV News - CNTV English". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  9. ^ Peterson, Luke Eric (August 28, 2013). "Philippines-China UNCLOS arbitration moving forward without Chinese participation". Kluwer Arbitration Blog. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Submissions to the Commission: Joint submission by Malaysia and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam". United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea. May 3, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  11. ^ "CLCS submissions and claims in the South China Sea, by Robert C. Beckman & Tara Davenport". August 11, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Brunei Darussalam's Preliminary Submission concerning the Outer Limits of its Continental Shelf". United Nations. Retrieved November 19, 2013.