The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) should invalidate China’s nine-dash claim which virtually takes over the entire South China Sea by end of 2014.
Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs made the stance a day after China’s Hainan province demanded foreign fishing vessels to ask permission to enter more than half of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea where China is in dispute with other countries over South China islands.
Hainan’s move marked the second time in two months that China claimed sovereignty outside its 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone. In December 2013, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in East China Sea where it is also dispute with Japan over East China Sea islands.
“These moves are rooted in their nine dash line claim. We have taken this nine-dash line to the United Nations Tribunal (ITLOS) and we are expecting them to come out with a decision invalidating this nine dash line by end of 2014 or early 2015 because this has no basis in international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS),” Hernandez told Radyo ng Bayan.
“It is a long process, but we are confident that our case is strong because our claims our based in UNCLOS,” Hernandez added.
UNCLOS provides that countries have exclusive economic zone within 200 nautical miles from their respective borders, a provision that the nine dash line is not in compliance.
The ADIZ and the Hainan ordinance, Hernandez said, is similar in nature because it both requires other parties to seek permission from China when entering such zones which aren’t necessarily part of China’s jurisiction per UNCLOS.
Hernandez invoked that while each country has individual air zones, such declaration is in coordination with other countries and is not pronounced unilaterally like what China previously did.
“China’s moves are increasing tensions and muddling the situation in the West Philippine Sea. We should be able to maintain peace and security in our region,” Hernandez argued.
“Its overstepping claims violates the law and the [Code of] Conduct of parties in the South China Sea,” Hernandez added.
Per Hernandez, the Philippine Embassy in Beijing has already sought a meeting with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to clarify the scope of the Hainan ordinance.
Hernandez, however, underscored that the Hainan ordinance should not stop Filipino fishermen from fishing in the Philippines’ 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone.
“Our fishermen can go fishing wihin our exclusive economic zone. We have our sovereign right there,” Hernandez said in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI