|China's ships conducting reclamation activities in Vietnam's Fiery Cross Reef (Photo: EPA/VNA)
According to The Hague court, China has no rights to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surrounding the Mischief and Thomas reefs.
The court defined “Ba Binh” feature in Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago as a “rock” which means it has no EEZ.
The PCA also underlined that China has interfered with the traditional fishing rights of the Philippines in Scaborough Shoal, highlighting that China’s actions have worsen disputes between the country and the Philippines when efforts have been made to resolve the disputes.
The PCA’s ruling also confirmed that no islands in Truong Sa entitle China a right to an EEZ, while stating that Beijing has caused long-term and irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem in Truong Sa.
According to the court, China’s claims to “historic rights” over waters within its “nine-dash line” is contrary to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line”, the court added.
In response to the ruling, Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay, the same day, issued an announcement welcoming the PCA’s judgment, while calling for all parties to stay restrained and calm.
The minister clarified that the Philippines respects the watershed decision, considering it an important contribution to efforts already underway to solve disputes in the East Sea.
However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has rejected the PCA’s ruling, insisting that China will never accept any announcements or actions based on the PCA’s ruling.
This is the first international ruling regarding the South China Sea disputes.
On January 22, 2013, the Philippines filed a lawsuit with the PCA against China’s claims to sovereign right, jurisdiction and historic rights over waters within the nine-dash line, which run counter to the 1982 UNCLOS and exceed the limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the convention.