China’s maritime claims and bases built or under construction by Bejing, via the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Tensions in the Game of Zones underway in the China Seas intensified today with a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration said there declared China has not right to control islands where the Asian economic giant has been constructing military bases and surrounding ocean waters.
The ruling by the court in the Hague is certain to provoke further military confrontations with the U.S., the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan.
Given that the Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a policy of rapid remilitarization and plans to strike the pacifist provisions of its post-World War II constitution we can be assured of one thing: Danger and crisis lie ahead.
From BBC News:
The ruling came from an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both countries have signed.
It ruled on seven of 15 points brought by the Philippines. Among the key findings were:
- Fishermen from the Philippines and China both had fishing rights around the disputed Scarborough Shoal area, and China had interfered by restricting access
- China had “destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features in the South China Sea” that formed part of the dispute
- Transient use of features above water did not constitute inhabitation – one of the key conditions for claiming land rights of 200 nautical miles, rather than the 12 miles granted for rocks visible at high tide.
The ruling is binding but the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no powers of enforcement.
More from the New York Times:
The landmark case, brought by the Philippines, was seen as an important crossroads in China’s rise as a global power. It is the first time the Chinese government has been summoned before the international justice system, and the decision against it could provide leverage to other neighboring countries that have their own disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.
“It’s an overwhelming victory. We won on every significant point,” said the Philippines’ chief counsel in the case, Paul S. Reichler. “This is a remarkable victory for the Philippines.”
But while the decision is legally binding, there is no mechanism for enforcing it, and China, which refused to participate in the tribunal’s proceedings, reiterated on Tuesday that it would not abide by it. “The award is invalid and has no binding force,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “China does not accept or recognize it.”
The foreign secretary of the Philippines, Perfecto Yasay, said Manila welcomed the decision as “significant” and called on “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety.”
A harsh rebuke for China, provocations inevitable
The ruling was harsh, a strong rebuke for China’s claims.
Beijing has invested millions, possibly billions, in developed bases and facilities for exercising its control over waters wise in fish and a seabed believed to contain extensive mineral and petroleum resources.
The Guardian offers it’s take on the ruling:
The ruling will make grim reading for Beijing and contains a series of criticisms of China’s actions and claims. The tribunal declared that “although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other states, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.
“The tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.”
None of the fiercely disputed Spratly Islands, the UN body found, were “capable of generating extended maritime zones … [and] having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the tribunal found that it could — without delimiting a boundary — declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”
There’s a lot more, after the jump, including reaction from Beijing, Tokyo, and Washington. . . Continue reading