Talk:Philippines v. China

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ITN Nomination[edit]

This article was nominated to be featured on the Main Page as part of the "In the news" section on July 12, 2016. The nomination was closed due to significant ongoing content disputes and allegations of non-NPOV editing.

Background section violates NPOV[edit]

The background section heavily emphasizes disputes over sovereignty, but in the view of both Philippines and the PCA tribunal, the case itself was not about sovereignty (as is clear from the text of the award). The emphasis on China's preferred framing around sovereignty appears to be a clear violation of NPOV. The background section needs to be revised to give more background on the UNCLOS and the disputes over maritime entitlements. Chris Hallquist (talk) 13:15, 4 August 2016 (UTC)

Background should also include an explanation of China's "nine-dash line" claims—the nine-dash line is mentioned once in the lede, then disappears from the article only to re-emerge in the "award" section without enough context to make the discussion in that section intelligible. Chris Hallquist (talk) 13:33, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
I think there are sufficient sources that would tell what triggered the arbitration, that is when the Philippine Navy arrested Chinese fishermen in Scarborough Shoal and the standoff that happened after. -- Namayan (talk) 05:48, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
I had no idea about that. Would appreciate if you could dig up sources. Chris Hallquist (talk) 13:49, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
I think it needs to include a bit of the background on the nine dash line. Currently, there is no info on it, despite the ruling being based on the legality of that nine dash line. The controversy surrounding it has been a major factor in the disputes. Ssbbplayer (talk) 04:02, 14 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree with this. I also don't like it being referred to as "territorial". I just changed a sentence in the "territorial disputes" article which claimed the tribunal ruled against China's "territorial claims". I changed it to "maritime claims". I see a similar sentence here about the tribunal ruling "against China over territorial disputes". Really they only ruled on maritime rights and economic rights, such as fishing rights and rights to petroleum and mineral resources. There remains an unresolved territorial dispute over ownership of these islands, and the panel stated that it's decision "would not advance the sovereignty claims of either Party to islands in the South China Sea" Acerimusdux (talk) 07:50, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

This is still an issue. The background emphasizes sovereignty, while this tribunal was not at all about sovereignty. Additionally, the "Optional Exceptions" subsection sounds deliberately misleading. A country may opt out of rulings over sovereignty per Article 298, which is why sovereignty was not discussed in the arbitration. I've added an NPOV tag to the section.

Given the heavy reliance on Chinese government sources, it may be appropriate to blank the entire background section and start over, ensuring that only reliable sources are used and that material is presented from a NPOV. Mamyles (talk) 18:52, 8 September 2016 (UTC)

I agree. Delete the entire section and rework it from scratch. It is misleading the readers and is biased when it criticizes the Philippines claims on the islands yet has none for China. Ssbbplayer (talk) 16:20, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Suggested revision to lead paragraph[edit]

Hello, to maintain the neutrality and objectivity of this page, I would like the following edit to the lead -

Current version -

Philippines v. China (also known as The South China Sea Arbitration) was an arbitration case brought by the Republic of the Philippines under the arbitration provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)[2][3][4] against the People's Republic of China concerning certain issues in the South China Sea[5] including the legality of China's "nine-dotted line" claim over the South China Sea under the UNCLOS. On 19 February 2013, China officially refused to participate in the arbitration because, according to China, its 2006 declaration under article 298[6] covers the disputes brought by the Philippines and that this case concerns sovereignty, thus it deems the arbitral tribunal formed for the case has no jurisdiction over the issue.[7] On 7 December 2014, a position paper was published by China to elaborate its position.[5][8] On 29 October 2015, the arbitral tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case,[9] taking up seven of the 15 submissions made by the Philippines.[10]

On 12 July 2016, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines against China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea;[11][12] in its major ruling, the tribunal ruled that China has "no historical rights" based on the "nine-dash line" map.[11][12] China has rejected the ruling, as has Taiwan.[13][14]

The United Nations holds no position on the case, and the International Court of Justice has had no involvement.

Suggested edited version -

Philippines v. China (also known as The South China Sea Arbitration) was an arbitration case brought by the Republic of the Philippines under the arbitration provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)[2][3][4] against the People's Republic of China concerning certain issues in the South China Sea[5] including the legality of China's "nine-dashed line" claim over the South China Sea under UNCLOS.

On 19 February 2013, China officially refused to participate in the arbitration on the premise that this case concerned sovereignty and that its 2006 declaration registered under UNCLOS Art. 298[6] covered these disputes. Hence the arbitration tribunal formed for the case has no jurisdiction over the issue.[7] On 7 December 2014, a position paper was published by China to elaborate its position.[5][8] After an year long deliberation (Add citation from the Permanent Court of Arbitration - case papers PCA case 2013-17 - and On 29 October 2015, the arbitral tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case,[9] taking up seven of the 15 submissions made by the Philippines.[10]

On 12 July 2016, the PCA tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in 7 of Philippines submissions (add citation to press release from PCA on 29/07/2016), and ruled that it could not make a decision in the other 7 submissions. It also clarified that it would not it would not "...rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and would not delimit any maritime boundary between the Parties". (Same citation as before)

The PCA tribunal found that China had "no historical rights" based on the "nine-dash line" map. Regarding the construction activities on Mischief reef and Second Thomas Shoal, it found that "...China has failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone. Accordingly, China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of the Convention."[11][12] Add citation to the 501 page ruling by PCA - pages 301 to 319. China has rejected the ruling, as has Taiwan.[13][14] Add citations - China government website on ruling, Peoples daily page on ruling, References from Washington post, CNN and BBC. The United Nations holds no position on the case, and the International Court of Justice has had no involvement. Add clarifications issued by UN and ICJ from their official websites.

Please let me know if I can do so, and plese permit the same. Alternately, please let me know how I can send this to you and if you would like to copy/paste this as an edit.

Thank you Notthebestusername (talk) 04:41, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

The detail in your paragraph 3 seems like useful clarifying detail. Not sure why you think your other, more minor suggested edits advance NPOV. Not saying they're bad, just that they seem very minor and I don't see them making much of a difference. Chris Hallquist (talk) 16:59, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
Also, your suggested paragraph 3 language does not quite match the press release. The decision about jurisdiction was actually announced as part of the October decision. Key paragraph from press release made at the time:[1]
In light of the foregoing, the Tribunal has concluded that it is presently able to decide that it does have jurisdiction with respect to the matters raised in seven of the Philippines’ Submissions. The Tribunal has concluded, however, that its jurisdiction with respect to seven other Submissions by the Philippines will need to be considered in conjunction with the merits. The Tribunal has requested the Philippines to clarify and narrow one of its Submissions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chris Hallquist (talkcontribs) 17:14, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
@ Chris Hallquist / All - actually I have taken all the data from (a) the final jurisdiction and admissibility award(29/10/2015) and (b) the 12/07/2016 final award. You will notice that I have used the same language as the latest 2016 award, regarding sovereignty. As you will observe from past judgements and awards too, PCA and ITLOS awards and judgements usually reflect a non-committal tone so that it cannot be interpreted in a different manner and does not aggravate issues - now or later. For the other material, I have taken information from official press releases by the PCA and have given the same as citations. This clarity is needed because the tribunal ruled in favour of Philippines on only half the counts - not all counts (hence words such as "overwhelmingly / ruled out historic claims completely do not reflect the ruling adequately)Notthebestusername (talk) 08:07, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree with you on the value of clarifying that the tribunal only ruled in favor of the Philippines on 7 of the submissions (actually not exactly half—there were 15 submissions by the Philippines, and the tribunal did something unusual with one of them). If the sources you mention in your last comment use slightly different language than the press release, can you quote the exact parts? The press-release language may be somewhat more accessible to non-lawyers, and presumably it accurately conveys the intent of the ruling, since it's an official press release. Chris Hallquist (talk) 15:49, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
@ Chris Hallquist - The wording of the press release is in line with the over all judgement. I have mostly used the same language as the press release, using the lengthy final ruling only where relevant / where more detail was needed. You are right - 7 of 15 submissions is less than half :) Notthebestusername (talk) 10:12, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

I'm closing this based on a WP:AN request. I find that there is no consensus, with almost all of the few participants favoring a different approach to the issue.  Sandstein  18:20, 26 September 2016 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

We are more than half-way through the current 30-day full protection of this article, and I worry there's a slight risk edit warring could resume at the end of that period. In the interest of keeping this RfC as narrow as possible, let's ask this question: which side of this diff—[2]—is preferable? For clarity, we can call the options "list more countries as supporting China's position" and "list fewer countries as supporting China's position". The question is not the best possible approach to the issue, but which is a better starting point once page protection ends. Chris Hallquist (talk) 14:53, 13 August 2016 (UTC)

(pinged by bot) Has there been prior discussion of the issue? If so, can you give pointers to where? -- Kautilya3 (talk) 10:11, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
@Kautilya3 if you read one section of this talk page, it should probably be "Use of Chinese government sources in the International Reactions section" (discussion started at about the time of the edit war that led to the page being protected). But currently a huge fraction of the talk page is about this one issue, which is why I tried to word it as narrowly as possible. Other relevant sections of the talk page:
  • "General problems with sources on this page"
  • "Use of Xinhuanet as a source"
  • "Chinese POV Given Prevalence"
  • "71 countries supporting China's position on various occasions published with official links on"
There are also country-specific sections for Poland, Cambodia, Fiji, India, and maybe some others I'm forgetting. As well as some sections that veered off into personal attacks (try e.g. CTRL+F for "hidden agenda"). Chris Hallquist (talk) 19:37, 16 August 2016 (UTC)


  • List fewer countries. Many of the sources used in the disputed material are Chinese government sources (or CCP sources), used as evidence of the position of countries other than China. This is a clear case of sources having an "apparent conflict of interest" per WP:QS. Furthermore, statements by e.g. China's foreign minster, quoted in an independent media organization (e.g. the Guardian, should be treated as coming from the Chinese government, not treated as coming from the Guardian. Finally, in some cases the countries listed as supporting China have made official statements on the South China Sea dispute, but the statements are more ambiguous than the Chinese government has made them out to be. Chris Hallquist (talk) 15:02, 13 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I think the best way forward is to restructure the international responses section. Instead of deciding which country is pro–China or Philippines, I think it should be a section in which the reactions and official statements for each country such be listed in the way that User:Hariboneagle927 mentioned previously (shown below for emphasis). It is much in line with the structure such as seen on the controversial events such as the Euromaidan, and Crimea annexation (exclude the map that indicates the positions of the country since it is WP:OR). I think we should also refrain from deciding whether the country is pro–China or not since we need a reliable, third party, non–partisan, and secondary source that verifies that the country itself is leaning towards one position. This is pretty difficult to find. Currently many of the sources in the international reactions are primary sources as they come from statements made by the foreign minister so they are difficult to determine their positions exactly. It would be WP:OR if we assume that they are leaning towards to pro–China or Philippines unless it explicitly says so, particularly if the sources are biased towards China or Philippines. I feel that the current structure of the international reactions is prone to bias from both sides. I think restructuring it would resolve the issue that has been lingering for a while. Ssbbplayer (talk) 03:49, 14 August 2016 (UTC)

For example:

Claim of support from Chinese and Philippine sources
Support for the Philippines as claimed by Philippine/non–Chinese sources
  • Country A
  • Country B

and so on

Support for China as claimed by Chinese sources (or content originally from a Chinese source that is published in another source).
  • Country A
  • Country B

and so on

  • I agree with this as far as it goes, but I was trying to craft a maximally narrow RfC, in hopes of making the result of this RfC as clear as possible, to ensure we don't see the immediate return of an edit war when the page is un-protected. Chris Hallquist (talk) 03:51, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
  • To clarify, as I've said before, I think limiting ourselves to official statements makes sense, but I'm leery of extensively detailing the meta-controversy over who supports who. I'd make an exception for cases where there's something interesting to saying (e.g. countries like India who've publicly disputed claims by the Chinese government that they support China). But listing every such claim made by the Chinese would violate WP:NOTNEWS. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chris Hallquist (talkcontribs) 22:12, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
I suggest to limit it to official statements of governments. Otherwise sources will conflict one another. No need to indicate whether one country is in favor or not. -- Namayan (talk) 04:11, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Yes, this makes sense. I may have gone overboard in trying to make this RfC very narrow. Chris Hallquist (talk) 22:12, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I'll agree with "list fewer". Mainly though, I think the categories should be reduced. The vast majority of those countries have merely expressed support for bilateral negotiations. But both the US and the Philipines have supported that as well [1][2]. So if that's the criteria, they should be included too. But only statements that actually express an opinion specifically on the arbitration (like Sudan and Taiwan) seem notable to me here. Also, not directly related, but the entire Academic analysis section is hugely biased as well, and should probably just be deleted Acerimusdux (talk) 09:17, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
  • List all countries. However, separate the countries whose reaction has been independently verified from those that have only been claimed by the involved countries. (For military battles, it is very common to list the claims of the warring countries separately from the neutral assessments. The issue here is similar.) I am not recommending any change of format. You would just need two more headings Philippine claims and Chinese claims. As per WP:PUS, it is fine to treat everything in Xinhua News as Chinese claim. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 20:45, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
  • @Kautilya3, can you link to an example of how this works for military battles? I'm leery of the approach you suggest, but I'm not sure I was aware of this precedent, so I might change my mind. Chris Hallquist (talk) 16:11, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm fine with doing something like the Sino-Vietnamese War example, where conflicting claims get a sentence or two apiece. In this case, saying something like "China has claimed more than 70 countries support its position" makes sense. But I'm more leery of making a comprehensive list of those countries. Chris Hallquist (talk) 18:28, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • It would take half a page to list every country China has claimed support them. Such a large amount of clearly inaccurate claims would be WP:UNDUE, and may cause readers to confuse them as real support. A simple statement that "China has falsely claimed support from more countries" would suffice. This source could be cited for such a statement. Mamyles (talk) 17:09, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm leery of leaning heavily on Breitbart. The Breitbart article seems to rely heavily on AMTI, can we just use AMTI? Chris Hallquist (talk) 18:30, 17 August 2016 (UTC)
  • List countries and reactions in alphabetical order (no need to separate into pro-China/pro-Philippines) The problem here is that many of the responses by countries cannot be properly classified into a pro-China or pro-Philippines position. For example, Singapore's position. Unless the countries have explicitly stated that they are supporting one party, we are not supposed to classify it either. My suggestion is to split this out to a new article and record the official positions of various countries as described in reliable sources. (I also suggest not to use any China/Philippine based sources for sourcing the reactions. Best to take a reliable media in that country as well as another media in an uninvolved country. --Lemongirl942 (talk) 04:33, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
  • I do not support the idea of listing all the countries with the sides they have taken, simply because this is too mammoth a task, and of no practical value. Loyalties are bound to keep shifting as each country courts the favour of either China or Philippines - or the countries allied to them. Some countries tend to exercise a neutral stance so that is does not interfere with their trade - this is common in international politics. Just a few lines related to a few nations should suffice. Notthebestusername (talk) 10:09, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
As for Lemongirl942's idea of " in an uninvolved country", this is difficult to get - USA, UK, Singapore are all countries that are involved with their own agendas. I am however in favour of Lemongirl942's idea of non Chinese and non Filipino sources of information. The only exception should be claims of each nation, where local media may be acceptable. Notthebestusername (talk) 10:09, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
We usually do keep information about reactions to international disputes. This is clearly an important case, so I don't see any harm in mentioning the reactions of all countries as long as reliable sources are available to source them. I'm just not in favour of classifying them as "pro-China" or "pro-Philippines". As for the sources, it should be ensured that the reactions are relevant to "this ICJ case only" and that high quality secondary sources are available to verify the country's position. (An actual statement by the country's Ministry for Foreign Affairs would be best here). --Lemongirl942 (talk) 10:19, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

Proposed language for the article[edit]

What do people think of this language for use in the article? Could be included with or without comprehensive lists from China and the AMTI:

China has claimed that over 70 countries support its position on the arbitration case. India, Fiji, Poland, Slovenia, and Vietnam have disputed China's characterization of their position as supporting China in the dispute. As of August 2016, The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative's Arbitration Support Tracker counted only five countries as publicly rejecting the ruling. Chinese academics Wang Wen and Chen Xiaochen defended China's claims in an article published on The Diplomat's website. Wang and Chen argued that that support for any part of China's position (including support for settling the dispute by peaceful negotiation) "is to support China’s position."

-- Chris Hallquist (talk) 00:00, 19 August 2016 (UTC)

@Chris Hallquist: I think the language being used is not biased at all. I'm unclear if it can be included with or without comprehensive lists from China and the AMTI though. Ssbbplayer (talk) 13:47, 3 September 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Academic analysis section[edit]

Okay, I'm finally going to start reworking the academic analysis section. In past discussions on this talk page, some people have urged caution about deleting material, but I haven't seen any real proposals for how to deal with the issues that have been raised about WP:QUOTEFARM and WP:UNDUE. I'm going to see if I can come up with something, but I'm starting by just cutting citations that seem clearly not to add anything to the article. In many cases the citations were to Chinese media sources, which raise issues with the source having a conflict of interest, as well as giving only a brief quotation from the academic in question, which raises questions of whether the academic in question is being accurately represented. In some cases of sources I've removed, there have been other issues—such as flat-out inaccuracy in the case of Ted L. McDorman's article (see section I started for that case above). Chris Hallquist (talk) 02:57, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Well, it's an improvement anyway. It's all still somewhat biased and misleading. I had been in favor of deleting it all. But maybe adding some analytical quotes from people like Julian Ku [1], Jerome Cohen (CFR) [2], Daniel Magraw (FPI, Johns Hopkins SAIS) [3] and Jacques deLisle (FPRI) [4] would help balance things a little. I've already added a reference to this quote from Ku:
"Scholars in the United States and Europe who have studied this case evince a diversity of opinion, although none that I could find have argued that China can legally ignore a jurisdictional award. This only makes the unanimity of Chinese legal opinion on this question more startling." Acerimusdux (talk) 12:15, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, my initial edit was a bandaid. I'm hoping I'll find time for a more thorough reworking. The goal should be to turn the section into something that's more than a list of quotes, and adds to readers' understanding of the case beyond stating the bare facts. Chris Hallquist (talk) 14:15, 31 August 2016 (UTC)
While this case definitely deserves in depth academic analysis (and I am sure this will be done in law of the sea courses across the world), I am not completely sure this Wikipedia page is the palce for it. There are precedents for the behaviour of the aggrieved party (in this case I am referring to China) - for example: in Nicaragua v. United States (1986) the ICJ ruled against USA, and asked it to pay reparations for its role in the upheavals on the country, but the US reaction was much like China's in the current case - The US had refused to participate in the case since the beginning, hence stated that it would not abide by the decision. And it hasn't. I do not see any academic analysis in the Nicaragua v. United States wiki page. Just making a point - the academic analysis is much deserved, only I am not sure if Wikipedia is the place for it (Imho, each page of the 501 page ruling is worth an in depth academic analysis. I myself had written a paper on Mischief reef in 2015 - much before the ruling). Notthebestusername (talk) 07:41, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
To clarify, I'm not saying Wikipedia should be doing academic analysis, but we can report what various academics have said. However, it's looking increasingly unlikely I'll find time to do what I was envisioning, so I withdraw my objection to just deleting the section. Chris Hallquist (talk) 22:02, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
Okay, I finally bit the bullet and removed the Academic Analysis section. I have no objection to including a substantially re-written version of that section. But unfortunately I have more pressing demands on my time. Chris Hallquist (talk) 12:30, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
I think deleting the entire section is the only good option. The issues haven't been resolved in a while and the section is highly prone to cherrypicking. I noticed that many of the info was cherrypicked since it tended to favor the Chinese POV using unreliable Chinese sources or certain scholars (why were they chosen compared to others) (many criticize the tribunal or its aspects). Ssbbplayer (talk) 17:22, 15 September 2016 (UTC)