Beijing-The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute, concluding China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.
In a 479 pages resolution, the court denied the existence of any legal basis for China demands in historic rights on resources in maritime regions.
Beijing considers that the bulk of South China Sea, rich in fuels, falls under its sovereignty; this is leading to disputes among Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Philippine. This zone is also a vital center of international trade and has a huge fish wealth.
To reinforce its demands, Beijing carried out expansion works in islands and sidewalks, constructing ports, an airstrip and other establishments including four beacons and a fifth one is underway.
Manila filed a lawsuit before The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013, demanding admitting that China is breaching the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, China boycotted the hearings.
The court’s sentence was rejected by China that announced explicitly its unwillingness to respect the sentence yet it was highly welcomed by Philippine. Given the verdict, China’s Navy carried out military trainings between Hainan Island and Paracel Islands.
From its part, U.S. considered the court’s sentence as binding and final; it also represents a huge contribution in resolving regional disputes knowing that Washington avoided taking sides in this case.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said that U.S. expects both parties to abide by their commitments. “The court’s sentence contributes in peacefully resolving the dispute. According to the U.N. Charter, The Hague’s sentence is legally final and binding to China and Philippine”, said Kirby.
From his part, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his wish to ease tension with China and his pursuit to reach a peaceful agreement with Beijing.