Philippines v. China
|Philippines v. China|
|Court||Permanent Court of Arbitration|
|Full case name||Arbitration between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China|
Alfred H. Soons
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Vietnam began to occupy the westernmost islands claiming that it has ruled them since the 17th century. 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.
Dispute over arbitration
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. China's refusal will not prevent the Permanent Court of Arbitration from proceeding with the case.
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.
Brunei sent its own claim through a preliminary submission.
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