Videos (China-Phil Sea Dispute)

“We should respect historical facts, not historical lies,” said Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has done extensive research on the territorial disputes at Institute for Maritime and Ocean Affairs

China’s 9-dashed line claim is a historical lie and it violates UNCLOS.

“If China’s 9-dashed lines are allowed to stand, then there will be no global commons in the South China Sea. If there is no global commons in the South China Sea, then there will be no global commons in the rest of the oceans and seas of our planet.” – SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Grand Theft of the Global Commons

“The Philippines has consistently expressed its concern on rising tensions in our part of the world, due to maritime and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As has been reported by international news agencies the world over, there is an emerging pattern of aggression bent on establishing new realities at sea and in the air,” Aquino said.

Such “aggression” endangers not only those who lay claim over some territories in the area but other countries outside the Asian region as well, he said.

“These violations of international law pose a danger not only to claimant countries, but also to the entire international community, since freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce are threatened,” Aquino added.

“Violations of international law should, therefore, be immediately stopped,” he said.

President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday (September 23, 2014) his nation will stick up for its territorial rights in the disputed South China Sea and voiced concern that a recent mission by two Chinese survey ships could presage an attempt to drill for oil there. See Aquino questions intent of Chinese ships

US President Barack Obama urged China (September 24, 2014) to abide by international law following growing tensions with countries in the Asia Pacific over maritime disputes. See Obama on maritime row: China must follow rules


China’s Island Factory


60 maps debunk China’s historical claim on South China Sea


Philippines: Ancient maps undercut South China Sea claims


House Body approves measure delineating Philippine maritime zones


A Game of Shark and Minnow


[Video] Aquino: Philippines will stick up for its territorial rights

The following videos by Ricardo B Serrano are about sea row disputes between China and Philippines in South China Sea (West Philippine Sea):


No basis in China’s historical right over West Philippine Sea

China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea under its so-called 9-dashed line map, which overlaps 80% of the Philippines’ EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) in the West Philippine Sea. If China’s claim is upheld, the Philippines will lose 80% of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank and even Malampaya. The Philippines will also lose all its ECS (Extended Continental Shelf) in the West Philippine Sea.

The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China boils down to whether there are overlapping EEZs between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. Are the waters enclosed by China’s 9-dashed lines part of the EEZ of China such that China’s EEZ overlaps with the EEZ of the Philippines? China also claims that the islands in the Spratlys like Itu Aba generate their own EEZs which overlap with the Philippines’ EEZ in Palawan.

China argues, through its scholars and officials, that the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the Philippines’ claim for two reasons: First, the dispute involves maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping EEZs of the Philippines and China, a dispute that China has opted out of compulsory arbitration. Second, China’s 9-dashed line claim is a historical right that predates UNCLOS and cannot be negated by UNCLOS. On these grounds, China has refused to participate in the arbitral proceedings.

The Philippines’ response is that the waters enclosed within China’s 9-dashed lines do not constitute an EEZ because the 9-dashed lines are not drawn from baselines along the coast of continental land or habitable islands. Under UNCLOS, EEZs can only be drawn from baselines along the coast of continental land or an island capable of human habitation or economic life of its own. China’s 9-dashed lines do not comply with the basic requirement of UNCLOS for drawing EEZs.

China has no EEZ that overlaps with the Philippines’ EEZ in the Scarborough area. China’s baselines are either along the coast of Hainan Island, which is 580 NM from Luzon, or along the coast of mainland China, which is 485 NM miles from the Zambales coastline in Luzon facing Scarborough Shoal. Even if you grant the Chinese-held Paracels an EEZ, the Paracels are about 480 NM from Luzon. To have overlapping EEZs, the distance between the opposite baselines must be less than 400 NM. In the Scarborough area, there is no baseline in Luzon where its distance from the nearest Chinese baseline is less than 400 NM.

China on shaky ground

China’s claim to a “historical right” to the waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines in the South China Sea is utterly without basis under international law. This is the almost universal opinion of non-Chinese scholars on the law of the sea.

First, UNCLOS extinguished all historical rights of other states within the 200 NM EEZ of the adjacent coastal state. That is why this 200 NM zone is called “exclusive” – no state other than the adjacent coastal state can exploit economically its resources. Fishing rights that other states historically enjoyed within the EEZ of a coastal state automatically terminated upon the effectivity of UNCLOS.

Moreover, UNCLOS prohibits states from making any reservation or exception to UNCLOS unless expressly allowed by UNCLOS. Any reservation of claims to historical rights over the EEZ or ECS of another coastal state is prohibited because UNCLOS does not expressly allow a state to claim historical rights to the EEZ or ECS of another state. In short, UNCLOS does not recognize “historical rights” as basis for claiming the EEZs or ECSs of other coastal states.

Second, under UNCLOS the term “historic bays” refers to internal waters, and the term “historic titles” refers to territorial seas. A state can claim “historical rights” over waters only as part of its internal waters or territorial sea. Thus, under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim “historical rights” over waters beyond its territorial sea.

The South China Sea, beyond the 12 NM territorial sea of coastal states, has never been considered as the internal waters or territorial sea of any state. Since time immemorial, ships of all nations have exercised freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Likewise, since the time airplanes flew across the seas, aircraft of all nations have exercised freedom of over-flight over the South China Sea.

If the South China Sea were the internal waters or territorial sea of China, then no state could have exercised freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight over the South China Sea. Indeed, China has stated that there is freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight in the South China Sea, an admission that the waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines do not constitute China’s internal waters or territorial sea.

The waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines cannot also form part of China’s EEZ or ECS because they are not drawn from China’s baselines and are beyond the limits of China’s EEZ and ECS as drawn from China’s baselines. In short, China’s claim to the waters enclosed by the 9-dashed line claim does not fall under any of the maritime zones – internal waters, territorial sea, EEZ and ECS – recognized by international law or UNCLOS that can be claimed by a coastal state. Only China seems to know what kind of maritime regime the 9-dashed line waters fall under, but China is not telling the world except that it is claiming “indisputable sovereignty” over such waters by “historical right.”

Third, under the general principles and rules of international law, a claim of “historical rights” to internal waters or territorial sea must satisfy four conditions. One, the state must formally announce to the international community such claim to internal waters or territorial sea, clearly specifying the extent and scope of such claim. Two, the state must exercise effective authority, that is, sovereignty, over the waters it claims as its own internal waters or territorial sea. Three, such exercise of effective authority must be continuous over a substantial period of time. Four, other states must recognize, tolerate or acquiesce to the exercise of such authority.

China fails to comply with any of these four conditions. China officially notified the world of its 9-dashed line claim only in 2009 when China submitted the 9-dashed line map to the United Nations Secretary General. Not a single country in the world recognizes, respects, tolerates or acquiesces to China’s 9-dashed line claim. China has never effectively enforced its 9-dashed line claim from the time of China’s domestic release of its 9-dashed line map in 1947 up to 1994 when UNCLOS took effect, and even after 1994 up to the present.

Thus, under the general principles and rules of international law, China cannot claim any “historical right” that pre-dated UNCLOS. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that China has such “historical right,” the entry into force of UNCLOS in 1994 extinguished such right. Under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim any “historical right” to the EEZ or ECS of another state.

The Philippines’ legal position before this UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal is explained in this carefully crafted Notification and Statement of Claim.

Salient points in the Notification and Statement of Claim:

1. The Philippines asserts that China’s so-called nine-dash line claim that encompasses virtually the entire South China Sea/West Philippine Sea is contrary to UNCLOS and thus unlawful.

2. Within the maritime area encompassed by the 9-dash line, China has also laid claim to, occupied and built structures on certain submerged banks, reefs and low tide elevations that do not qualify as islands under UNCLOS, but are parts of the Philippine continental shelf, or the international seabed.

3. In addition, China has occupied certain small, uninhabitable coral projections that are barely above water at high tide, and which are “rocks” under Article 121 (3) of UNCLOS.

4. China has interfered with the lawful exercise by the Philippines of its rights within its legitimate maritime zones, as well as to the aforementioned features and their surrounding waters.

See my commentaries, news and updates at:

In war on drugs, truth is the first casualty
ITLOS ruling vs China’s claim
US-Alliance vs China (Updates)
Philippines in ITLOS vs China
China vs US Alliance in West PH Sea
China’s W. PH Sea Karmic Repercussions
Blockades by China to follow in West PH Sea
United, we will win vs China
China’s ADIZ in West PH Sea
SC: EDCA is constitutional
VFA/EDCA needed to defend West PH Sea
China vs Philippines Ayungin Standoff
CCP, an outlaw vs US Alliance
US-Asia Pacific Alliance vs China
US, Philippines and Japan vs China
Our Geography is our Destiny


West Philippine Dispute Timeline


Panatag Shoal Timeline


West Phillipine Sea Primer


Book proves Scarborough Shoal part of Philippine territory

Leave a Reply