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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More