Philippines vs. China: Court to rule on South China Sea fight

Posted: July 12, 2016 in Hồi ức

Hong Kong (CNN)A international tribunal will hand down a landmark ruling Tuesday in a case that will have major implications for one the world’s biggest geopolitical flashpoints — the South China Sea.

With the Philippines and China at loggerheads over Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea, Manila took its fight to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.
China has refused to participate in the case, which marks the first time an international court has ruled on the sea’s mess of overlapping claims, and analysts expect the ruling to largely go against Beijing.
“Security has real consequences and, given that the South China Sea sees about half of the world’s trade flow and is one of its busiest trade routes, the ruling will impact trade and businesses worldwide,” said Eric Shimp, a trade policy advisor at law firm Alston & Bird.
“Pieces are already moving in Asia as the parties and other interested countries anticipate a ruling that favors the Philippines, but which China ignores.”

Showdown in the South China Sea: Timeline

The South China Sea is home to a messy maritime dispute. China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all dispute sovereignty of several island chains and nearby waters.

1947

Nine-dash line

China publishes a map outlining its claims in the South China Sea. The map becomes the basis of the “nine-dash line” — the foundation of China’s current territorial claims.

January 1974

China occupies the Paracel Islands

China builds a military installation on Woody Island with an airstrip and artificial harbor. It has occupied all the Paracel Islands since 1974, when Chinese troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

A 1998 aerial picture of a two-story Chinese garrison built in the disputed Johnson Reef, armed with naval guns on the rooftop located in the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea.

March 14, 1988

Deadly skirmish

Chinese and Vietnamese sailors square off over Johnson South Reef as the two countries scramble for a physical presence in the Spratlys. Vietnam says 64 of its soldiers were killed in the battle.

The Association of South East Asian Nations groups 10 countries.

November 4, 2002

Declaration of conduct

China and members of ASEAN sign a “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.” The accord eases tensions but falls short of a legally binding code of conduct.

May 2005 — 2006

Taiwan builds airstrip

Taiwan builds a a 1,200 meter runway at Itu Aba island, the only island it controls in the South China Sea and the largest naturally occuring island in the Spratlys.

May 2009

China makes submission to U.N.

In a submission to the United Nations, China claims sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and adjacent waters. To support its claim, it attaches a map of the “nine-dash line” — its claimed territorial waters that extend hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan. Vietnam and Malaysia object.

Protesters wave mock Chinese passports during a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila in November 2012.

November 2012

New passports

The Philippines and Vietnam condemn a new Chinese passport design that contains a map of China’s disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea.

January 2013

Philippines vs. China

The Philippines files a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. It seeks a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Beijing refuses to participate.

This picture taken on July 25, 2012 shows the Chinese government house in Sansha on Woody Island, known as Yongxing in Chinese.

April 2013

Tourists arrive

China says it has started allowing tourists to visit Woody Island in the Paracels as part of a cruise.

May 2, 2014 — July 15, 2014

Oil rig dispute

Chinese oil company CNPC moves an oil exploration rig near to Triton Island in the Paracels. Anti-Chinese riots erupt in Vietnam, causing damage to businesses. Vietnamese vessels approach the rig but are stopped by Chinese boats. The standoff ends when China moves the rig on July 15, a month earlier than planned.

Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea.

November 2014

Airstrip-capable island

Satellite images analyzed by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly suggest China is building an island at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys big enough for an airstrip.

Mischief Reef in the South China Sea in January 2012, left, and in September 2015, right.

February 2015

Island building

Satellite imagery shows China building a “significant presence” in the Spratlys, reclaiming land at a total of five sites and building airstrips. IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly describes it as a “methodical, well-planned campaign” to create a chain of air and sea capable “fortresses.”

May 2015

U.S. plane warned

China’s Navy warns a U.S. surveillance plane carrying a CNN crew eight times as it flies over man-made islands in the Spratlys.

June 16, 2015

China says reclamation “almost finished”

China says it has “almost completed” land reclamation in the South China Sea. According to the U.S., China has reclaimed some 3,000 acres of land since the beginning of 2014.

October 26, 2015 — January 30, 2016

U.S. tests freedom of navigation

The United States sends a warship, the USS Lassen, within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands — Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys. The U.S. conducts a similar “freedom of navigation” operation near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands January 30, 2016. China objects to both, tracking and warning the vessels.

January 2016

Test flights

Chinese civilian airliners land on a freshly completed runway at Fiery Cross Reef, drawing objections from Vietnam.

A satellite image of Woody Island, part of the disputed Paracel chain in the South China Sea, is pictured left, on February 3, 2015, and right, on February 14. ImageSat says image from February 14 shows the deployment of weapon launchers and support vehicles.

February 2016

Missiles deployed

China deploys surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets on Woody Island in the Paracels as U.S. President Obama meets with ASEAN leaders. Obama calls for a halt to construction or militarization in Asia’s seas.

Test flights
January 2016

Nine-dash line

China occupies the Paracel Islands

Deadly skirmish

Declaration of conduct

Taiwan builds airstrip

China makes submission to U.N.

New passports

Philippines vs. China

Tourists arrive

Oil rig dispute

Airstrip-capable island

Island building

U.S. plane warned

China says reclamation “almost finished”

U.S. tests freedom of navigation

Test flights

Missiles deployed

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Messy territorial dispute

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all dispute sovereignty of several island chains and nearby waters in the South China Sea — with rival claims to the Chinese interpretation.
China claims the waters within its “nine-dash line” — that extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan.
Tensions have ratcheted up as China has reclaimed land in massive dredging operations, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.
Beijing has also repeatedly warned U.S. warships and military aircraft to stay away from these islands.

What’s at stake

The Philippines asked the court to decide what rights it has to the disputed waters under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
It wants the court to rule whether certain features in the sea are islands, rocks, low-tide elevations or banks — each deliver different rights over the surrounding waters.
For example, an island grants an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles and gives the responsible country complete control over all enclosed resources, including fish, oil and gas.
However, man-made islands, like those China has been building, aren’t counted under UNCLOS.
While the ruling is regarded as legally binding, there is no mechanism to enforce it — United Nations troops won’t be forcing China off the land it controls.

Heightened tensions

However, analysts say the ruling could heighten strains in a region already bristling with tension, especially if it provokes a defiant reaction from China.
South China Sea: Full coverage
  • Why ruling may change Asia
  • Showdown: How did we get here?
China’s military has been conducting live-fire drills in the disputed waters in the run-up to the verdict and has said the ruling will “undermine peace.”
“An increased military presence and activity by multiple countries means an uptick in the risk of potential conflicts in the region,” said Shrimp.

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