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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid