An international arbitration panel has ruled that it can hear a case brought by the Philippines concerning the South China Sea, thwarting China’s attempts to have the case thrown out.
According to a press release issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, the argument made by China that the dispute was about sovereignty was rejected.
The court has therefore decided that the issue falls within its remit. It is now planning to begin hearings on the case’s merits, under a UN Convention.
China’s claims in the South China Sea are contested by most of its neighbors, with protests having been held in both Vietnam and the Philippines.
China’s “nine-dash line” demarcates the extent of its territory in the South China Sea, but the Philippines rejects its claim over the Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys. It says that such claims are unlawful under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries have signed.
The Philippines asked the Hague-based panel to consider its case under the convention, which falls within the panel’s jurisdiction. It will hear seven of Manila’s submissions.
China, which has been kicking up a fuss about UN involvement all along, has boycotted the proceedings and insisted that the panel has absolutely no authority to pass judgement on the case.
No date has been set for further hearings, but expect some strong worded rhetoric from Beijing about the issue which it considers a core national interest and a matter of sovereignty rather than maritime law.
[Image via BBC]