FAIR DINKUM by Lolita Farmer OAM: Foreign Affairs Secretary del Rosario Debunks China’s Nine-Dash-Line And Historic Rights Claims

At the first day of hearing at the Peace Palace, Hague, Netherlands, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario debunks China’s nine-dash-line and “historic rights” claim to almost all of South China Sea. He outlined 5 principal claims mindful that he is not seeking ruling on sovereignty but seeking an outcome that the Arbitral Tribunal has jurisdiction and also case admissibility.
Quoted verbatim are :
“ - First, that China is not entitled to exercise what it refers to as “historic rights” over the waters, seabed and subsoil beyond the limits of the entitlements under the Convention;
- Second, that the so-called nine dash line has no basis whatsoever under international law insofar as it purports to define the limits of China’s claim to “historic rights”.
- Third, that the various maritime features relied upon by China as a basis upon which to assert its claims in the South China Sea are not islands that generate entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Rather, some are ‘rocks” within the meaning of Article 121, paragraph 3; others are low-tide elevations; and still others are permanently submerged. As a result. None are capable of generating entitlements at all. China’s recent massive reclamation activities cannot lawfully change the original nature and character of these features;
- Fourth, that China has breached the Convention by interfering with the Philippines’ exercise of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction and
- Fifth, that China has irreversibly damaged the regional maritime environment, in breach of UNCLOS, by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ EEZ, by its destructive and hazardous fishing practices, and by its harvesting of endangered species.”
For over 2 decades, the Philippines has pursued resolving its disputes with China bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally. Regrettably, nothing proved capable of resolving the disputes.
In the Philippines view, the proceedings are of most importance not only to the country, but to the region, and the world. Most of all it is of utmost significance to the integrity of the Convention and the international community.
There will be a second round of arguments on 23 July 2014, for the Philippines to submit expanded answers to questions from the Arbitral Tribunal.
China has refused to participate in the arbitral hearing for it maintains the body has no jurisdiction to hear the case.
If a decision is reached that the Tribunal has jurisdiction, the Philippines will seek land reclamation orders to ensure that China ceases its reclamation activities.
Within 90 days at the end of oral arguments and if a decision is reached that Tribunal has jurisdiction, the Philippines will return to Hague for more oral arguments and a final decision is expected by June 2016.
The Philippine delegation was led by Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Undersecretary Defence Emmanuel Bautista, Executive Director Cabinet Security Cluster, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Supreme Court Justices Antonio Carpio, Francis Jardeliza, Sandigan Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez , Solicitor Florin Hilbay and lead counsel Paul Reichler.

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