DFA lauds US affirmation of 2016 arbitral on SCS

January 21, 2022 Cristina Lee-Pisco 150 views

THE Philippines welcomed the United States’ affirmation of the 2016 Arbitral Award in the South China Sea (SCS), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.
In a statement, the DFA said “We welcome the affirmation of the 2016 Arbitral Award by the US State Department’s Limits in the Seas No. 150: People’s Republic of China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea.”

The State Department released a 47-page report last week saying Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, “especially considering their expansive geographic and substantive scope, gravely undermine the rule of law in the oceans and numerous universally recognized provisions of international law” reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It cited as an example, China’s claims to sovereignty over maritime features that do not meet the international law definition of an “island” and fall entirely beyond a lawful territorial sea.

“This includes any claim to sovereignty over entirely submerged features like James Shoal, Vanguard Bank, and Macclesfield Bank. It also includes any claim to sovereignty over low-tide elevations, such as Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal, which fall entirely beyond a lawful territorial sea entitlement and which are not subject to appropriation under international law,” the report read.

The report said China’s “historic rights claims” in the area are also “plainly inconsistent” with international law.

It said “the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) historic rights claim has been protested by the United States and many other States and was rejected by the tribunal in The South China Sea Arbitration.”

The DFA statement said the US affirmation is consistent with the Philippines-US Joint Vision Statement issued last November 2021, including the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling, which it described as “legally binding” on both Manila and Beijing.

In its 2016 award, The Hague said Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other countries, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, but there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.

Thus, the International Tribunal said there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its “nine-dash line”.