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PCA began hearing on the Nine-dash line of South China Sea

Jul 7, 2015 16:16 IST

Nine-dash line: Demarcation line initially used by China to claim major ports of South China Sea
Nine-dash line was in news as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on 7 July 2015 began hearing a case brought by the Philippines against China on territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The nine-dash line also known as U-shaped line refers to the demarcation line which was initially used by China for their claims of the major port of the South China Sea (SCS). Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim that they have been bisected by China’s nine-dash line.

This is the first time that the disputed South China Sea came under international legal scrutiny, despite Beijing officially refusing to take part in the case. Philippines filed the case against China in 2013 under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The PCA will determine who has property rights over a 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. In past few years, China has created seven artificial islands especially in the Spratly archipelago, giving rise to tensions in the contested waters.

The contested area in the SCS includes the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, and various other areas including the Pratas Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal. The claim encompasses the area of Chinese land reclamation known as the "great wall of sand".

Earlier on 1 December 1947, China published a U-shaped eleven-dotted line map. Later it removed, two dots in the Gulf of Tonkin at the behest of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, reducing the total to nine. Subsequent editions added dashes to the other end of the line, extending it into the East China Sea.

Despite having made the vague claim public in 1947, China is still (as of 2015) to file a formal and specifically defined claim to the area within the dashes.

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