News / Asia

Philippines to Forge Ahead with Sea Dispute Arbitration

South China Sea Territorial Claims
South China Sea Territorial Claims
Simone Orendain
The Philippines says it will continue to pursue international arbitration in its territorial dispute in the South China Sea with China, despite Beijing's rejection. Philippine authorities say they do not need China's consent to take the issue to the United Nations.

Officials with the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs say the 1982 U.N. treaty that both countries signed allows Manila to go into arbitration alone. DFA Ocean Concerns Assistant Secretary Gilberto Asuque says international arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is compulsory.

“The process has started. It cannot be disrupted.  The actions of China cannot interfere with the completion of the process because there is nothing in UNCLOS that says you can disrupt or interfere with the process," said  Asuque.

The Philippine arbitration filing says China violates the UNCLOS-designation of a country’s exclusive economic zone, which is 370 kilometers from its coastline. It also calls China’s centuries-old claim to practically the entire South China Sea illegal.

It also calls China’s centuries-old claim to practically the entire South China Sea illegal.

On Tuesday, China’s ambassador to Manila sent the notice of the arbitration back to the Philippines. Then at a news briefing, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said the filing was “factually flawed.” He also says it goes against the non-binding agreement between the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to settle sea-related disputes among themselves.

He says The Philippines' actions make numerous historical and legal errors, including false criticism of China. He says China cannot accept it.

Futile filing?

But how would one-party arbitration work, exactly? Professor Myron Nordquist of the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia calls the situation “quite bizarre.”

“For one thing, it is doomed to failure because if the party won’t consent to the arbitration there is then no enforcement," said Nordquist. "How would they expect a country that didn’t want to have a dispute settled by third parties to feel in any sense bound by a decision where they didn’t even participate?”

However, Nordquist says the filing is not entirely futile, especially because Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the resource-rich sea.

“It’s accomplishing one of its purposes, which is to bring attention to this and politically to give the Filipino government the argument that ‘Hey, we tried to solve this peacefully and you wouldn’t play,'" he said.

In recent years, the Philippines’ list of diplomatic protests of alleged intrusions by China into its exclusive economic zone has grown. And, it continues to try to forge diplomatic alliances in the region to strengthen its case. The militarily weak country has also renewed ties to its Mutual Defense Treaty ally, the United States, which is closely watching developments in the area.

US concerns

U.S. Naval intelligence officer Captain James Fanell of the Pacific Fleet gave a blunt assessment last month of China’s increasing activities in east and southeast Asian waters.

Fanell spoke at a defense conference in California. He calls China’s marine surveillance operation a “full-time maritime sovereignty harassment organization.”

He says you do not see incidents or controversies around the platform off the Chinese coast.  Therefore, he likens China's position to "What's mine is mine and we'll negotiate what's yours," he said.

Fanell says the United States remains neutral in territorial disputes and that China needs to be a guarantor of East Asian maritime security.

China has consistently opposed any move by the Philippines to internationalize its grievances, while frequently saying that they both should work, one-on-one, toward peace and stability in the region.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid