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Territorial Claims – Who Rule Over The South China Sea?

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A UN tribunal gave verdict on Tuesday that China has no legal basis over ‘South China Sea’. The Hague based court said China has caused harm to the coral reef environment by building artificial islands.  It ruled in the favour of the Philippines over the claim of the sea and said it violated the sovereign rights of Philippines.

In 2013 the Philippines solicited to the international tribune and claimed China violated their sovereignty over the Sea. The court came to a decision that China has no right to the resources within its ‘nine-dash line’. The court referring to a separation line on a 1947 map of the China Sea said, “There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.”

On the other side China declined the judgment of the Hague court. Chinese government declared that they take all necessary measure to protest its sovereignty in the South China Sea and it will set up an air defense zone. Chinese President Xi Jingping said, “China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.”

 On Wednesday the Vice Foreign Minister, Liu Zhenmin told reporters in Beijing, “On whether China will set up an air defense zone over the South China Sea, what we have to make clear first is that China has the right to. But whether we need one in the South China Sea depends on the level of of threats we face.”

The foreign minister asserted that China has using the water for more than 2,000 years and the islands have exclusive economic zones. Ambassador Cui told the CSIS forum, “China will do everything possible to safeguard the unimpeded flow of commerce and stop any attempt to destabilize the region.”

Importance of South China Sea

One-Third of the world’s shipping sailing through its water and it has huge resource of natural gas, oil and varieties of fishes. It is the second most used sea lane in the world. Over 50% passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. Over 1.6 million of crude oil a day is shipped through the Strait of Malacca. It is proven that this region has around 1.2 km of oil reserve and the estimate of natural gas is around 7,500 km.

According to studies of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines, this body of water holds one third of the entire world’s marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem. However the fish stocks in the area are depleted and countries are using fishing bans as a means of asserting their sovereignty claims.

Territorial Conflict

Several countries such as China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Taiwan have claimed their possession over the South China Sea. Both People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China have claimed that the entire water body as their own.  They distinguishing their claim as indicated by the ‘nine dotted line’ (The nine-dash line, previously the “11-dash line”, is the demarcation line used initially by the government of the Republic of China (ROC / Taiwan) and subsequently also by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), for their claims of the major part of the South China Sea).

nine dash line
The nine dash line

Vietnam’s foreign affairs ministry said they totally support the court’s verdict. A ministry representative Le Hai Bình told, “Vietnam strongly supports the resolution of the disputes … by peaceful means, including diplomatic and legal processes and refraining from the use or threats to use force, in accordance with international law.”

In the Philippines the hashtag #CHexit was trending on twitter which meant China to leave the South China Sea. Paul Reichler, lead lawyer for the Philippines averred, “The award is a complete and total victory for the Philippines… a victory for international law and relations. “

Conversely, in a Chinese Networking Site thousands of users were sharing a China map with nine-dash line and the slogan “China can’t be one dash less”.

Role of US                         

In the other side US is playing a major role in that issue. US State Department official said Washington has continued their monitoring in the South China Sea. US sent military aircrafts and warships around the South China Sea. But China doesn’t want to allow US to intervene. US said ‘water’ is not a national property. So it’s an international problem, anyone can take part in that international dispute.

The US State Department stated in a statement, “This decision can and should serve as a new opportunity to renew efforts to address maritime disputes peacefully.”

United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon recommended to resolve the matter in a in a “peaceful and amicable manner through dialogue and in conformity with international law.”

A US official who helps set the administration’s Asia policies said it is important for the countries and United States to evade provocative actions and “avoid making matters worse”. It is better for Beijing to solve the matter calmly.

Suchismita Biswas
Suchismita Biswas
Pen is mightier than swords - these words make me passionate about writing. Except writing I love to travel , love to explore the unknown places, love photography and love listening to music. Also I am an avid reader of books. I'm a simple girl but I am what I am.

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