The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on 12 July 2016 ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute on South China Sea. The tribunal concluded that China do not have legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the Sea.
Rulings and Finding of the tribunal
• The tribunal gave a ruling that China does not has the right to resources within its nine-dash line which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90 percent of the disputed waters.
• The tribunal also found that none of the sea features claimed by China were capable of generating what's called an exclusive economic zone which gives country maritime rights to resources such as fish and oil and gas within 200 nautical miles of that land mass.
• It found that they were rocks or low-tide elevations such as reefs, rather than islands.
• The tribunal found that some of China’s activities in the region were in breach of the Philippines' sovereign rights.
• Tribunal in its ruling also stated that China had violated those rights by interfering in fishing and oil exploration, constructing artificial islands and failing to stop Chinese fisherman from fishing the zone.
• It found that China had caused severe harm to coral around the site of its artificial islands. It had also violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems.
• Chinese fisherman had also killed endangered sea turtles and giant clams on a substantial scale that too with the knowledge of China.
• The tribunal said it "lacked the jurisdiction to consider the implications of a stand-off" between the Chinese and Philippines military, specifically at Second Thomas Shoal, and said any resolution of the dispute was "excluded from compulsory settlement."
• The tribunal did not order China to take any particular steps to remedy the situation, dismantle construction on the islands or provide reparations to the Philippines.
Effects of the Ruling
• The ruling doesn't just affect China and the Philippines, but other countries that have competing claims with the nation over large areas of the sea.
• Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia have also taken exception to China's growing presence in the region and could now be emboldened to take further action.
• While the ruling in The Hague is regarded as legally binding, there is no mechanism to enforce it.
• The Philippines and China have longtime maritime dispute as China claims of sovereignty over large swaths of the South China Sea, and Manila took its fight to the court in 2013.
• It increased the tensions as China reclaimed the land in massive dredging operations, turning sandbars into islands equipped with airfields, ports and lighthouses.
• China refused to participate in the case, which marks the first time an international court has ruled on the region's mess of overlapping claims.
When: 12 July 2016