August 31, 2014

China’s nine-dash line came ahead of Unclos, says expert

By Matikas Santos |

8:31 pm | Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Wu Shicun, president of National Institute for South China Sea Studies. Photo from

MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese scholar claimed that China has a more solid hold on the South China Sea because its nine-dash line claim over nearly 90 percent of the area has existed before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“The Nine-dash line had existed for nearly half a century ahead of Unclos, you have no reason to ask the Nine-dash Line to conform to a later convention,” Wu Shicun, president of National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said in a video report of state-run China Central Television (CCTV) Friday.

“A basic principle of international law is non-retroactivity. Today’s law cannot overwrite existing facts of the past,” Wu said.

The Philippines has challenged the nine-dash line claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) after the April 2012 standoff between Chinese coast guard and Philippines authorities at Scarborough Shoal which China calls Huangyan Island.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that China has maintained an overwhelming presence in the South China Sea including the disputed Spratly Islands off the coast of Palawan.

Several incidents of Chinese ships using force to turn away Filipino fishermen have been reported. Reclamation projects on submerged reefs were seen through a series of aerial surveillance photographs publicized by the DFA.

A Filipino maritime law expert however refuted Wu’s claims, saying that even if China’s nine-dash line claim existed before Unclos which came into force in 1994, it would not have had any legal consequences.

“Prior to Unclos, no state could lay claim to waters more than three nautical miles from shore,” Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said in a text message to

“Besides, the nine-dash line was not published internationally aside from a Chinese map. Even if the nine-dash line was issued in 1947, it could not have had any legal effect,” he said.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio had also debunked China’s own historical claims caling the nine-dash line a “gigantic historical fraud.”

Carpio, in one of his series of lectures entitled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies and Historical Rights in the West Philippine Sea,” showed copies of maps of China dating back to the 13th century and to the 1930s, made by Chinese authorities or individuals and even foreigners, that showed the southernmost territory of China has always been Hainan Island.

Carpio also showed that Chinese territory never included the Spratly Islands in the middle of the South China Sea and Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

“There is not a single ancient map, whether made by Chinese or foreigners, showing that the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal were ever part of Chinese territory,” Carpio said.

“China’s so-called historical facts to justify its nine-dash line are glaringly inconsistent with actual historical facts, based on China’s own historical maps, constitutions and official pronouncements,” he said.

China has repeatedly refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings insisting on bilateral talks and negotiations with the Philippines.

DFA secretary Albert del Rosario however said that China has also been refusing to meet with Philippine officials despite repeated requests.

Related stories:

UNCLOS explained: Why China’s claims in South China Sea are invalid

Justice Carpio debunks China’s historical claim

‘China’s refusal to join arbitration a serious violation of Unclos’

Read more: 
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Live blog: Occupy Central's Benny Tai declares 'era of civil disobedience' for Hong Kong

Live blog: Occupy Central's Benny Tai declares 'era of civil disobedience' for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 August, 2014, 7:20pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 August, 2014, 11:09pm

After China's National People's Congress standing committee slapped tight restrictions on Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive election procedures in an official decision on Sunday, pro-democracy forces in the city have vowed to embark on long-term fight against Beijing's decision. 
Organisers of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement calling for democratic elections by "international standards", gathered several thousand supporters outside the Hong Kong government headquarters in Tamar between 7pm and 9pm on Sunday. They declared Occupy Central would soon enter it next stage, calling for thousands of protesters to stage sit-ins on main roads and "wave after wave" of protests and paralyse Hong Kong's financial centre. 
10.45pm About a hundred protesters led by student activist group Scholarism remain camped opposite the Grand Hyatt Hotel awaiting Li Fei's expected arrival at around 2am.
Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung and Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung give speeches to rally protesters, who are asked to rest and drink water during this period.
10.38pm At least 10 police vehicles are parked at a row of bus stops on Gloucester Road. Some people shouted angrily at the police for causing inconveniences to the public and parking with their engines on.
10.12pm After the chaotic scene, Scholarism announced that the police had agreed to expand the barricaded protesting zone.
View image on Twitter
Police have stopped marchers from crossing the street. Now at Grand Hyatt. @Scholarismhk negotiating with police.

9.55pm Chaos broke out briefly at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai, where Li Fei would be staying Sunday night, as some protesters breached metal barricades because the arranged protesting zone was not large enough to fit the group of protesters who had marched to the hotel to wait for Li.
One of the organisers shouted repeatedly via a loudspeaker, asking protesters not to engage in physical clashes with the police. The chaos lasted about 2 minutes.
9.15pm Speaking after the event, Benny Tai Yiu-ting said Sunday night's turnout of a few thousand exceeded his expectations.
"In such a short time, thousands showed up to express their disappointment at the NPC's decision," he said. Event organisers at 8pm estimated the turnout at 5,000. After the rally, police estimated that 2,640 people had joined at its peak time.
"Even though the decision is unjust and undemocratic, many people are willing to fight for democracy and for the ability to decide their own fate."
Tai said he could not provide further details about when exactly the movement would commence but "citizens would know when the time comes".
He said student boycotts would begin first, followed by a number of regular lawful protests. A yellow ribbon campaign would hopefully raise public awareness about the injustice of the NPC decision, he said.
"We will meet again very soon in Central," says Benny Tai Yiu-ting.
Occupy organisers urge participants to leave in orderly and peaceful manner and not to engage with counter-protesters who could try to provoke them.
9.06pm Ng Yut-ming, 50, attended the rally with his wife and daughter. He said he was disappointed over the Standing Committee's decision.
"I want to tell Beijing that Hong Kong people do not agree with their decision and will not accept this," said Ng.
He said he would participate in Occupy Central and was ready to accept potential legal consequences.
Ng's daughter Long-hei, 21, said she had not decided if she would take part in the boycott of classes or Occupy Central, depending on if these activities would change Beijing's mind.

View image on Twitter
Late arrivals swell numbers at occupy central rally to around 5,000

More than 5,000 people turn up to rally say organisers @SCMP_News
Occupy Central supporters turn on their mobile phone flashlights. Photo: Ernest Kao.

8.55pm Occupy organisers ask participants to take out their mobile phones and to switch on the flashlight function. The lights represent the "conscience of Hong Kong citizens", said Occupy co-organiser Chan Kin-man. A popular song played at social movements by rock band Beyond plays in the background.
8.50pm Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, also takes to the stage to call out the central government for "cheating" Hongkongers of true democracy.
"They are moving the goal posts again," said Lee. "Beijing can now select the candidates, puppets of course ... two to three, they say.
"But what's the difference between a rotten orange, rotten apple and a rotten banana?
"We want genuine universal suffrage not democracy with Chinese characteristics."

View image on Twitter
"We cannot be cheated again," says Martin Lee @SCMP_News

8.33pm University student Elef Wong, 21, said he would also participate in student boycotts.
"It will affect my education but I think it is necessary for me to participate because we are talking about the future of Hong Kong," said Wong.
"I was very disappointed in [the NPC decision] today. They have rejected everything we have been fighting for for so long...this is not improvement, this is a step backward."

View image on Twitter
Young protesters at Occupy Central rally

8.32pm Cheung Siu-yan, in her 50s, took her seven-year-old granddaughter to the rally. She said she would not join Occupy Central because she was the only caretaker of her granddaughter, but said she really wanted to.
"Today is a really sad day," said Cheung. "I'm no longer young. Hong Kong has been pursuing for universal suffrage for 30 years. How many 30 years there are in a person's life? Does my granddaughter have to wait for another 30 years? Don't kid with me."

View image on Twitter
Upgrading my estimate of turnout at rain-interrupted occupy central rally to 3,000 to 4,000

8.20pm Ho Yim-hung, 80, said Beijing had betrayed Hong Kong in denying it an open election and asserting total control over the city through the white paper.
"The central government is a liar," she said emotionally. "It says people who join Occupy Central are violent, but in fact it is violent itself." Ho said she would join Occupy Central, even if at the risk of being arrested.
8.10pm Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung announces that preparations for secondary school student strikes would officially be underway.
"In addition to our academic responsibility, we also have our social responsibility," he said. 

View image on Twitter
李柱銘 Martin Lee at

7.56pm Rain became heavier with rumbling thunder. Many in the rally have opened umbrellas and stayed in the venue, as speakers on the stage vowed "wave after wave of fight" for real democracy.
"Hope starts with people," one speaker shouts, with many in the audience echoing him.
Later, Scholarism spokeswoman Agnes Chow Ting announced the group's plan to "ambush" Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, at his hotel in Wan Chai after the rally.

7.35pm Amid a slight drizzle, Civil Human Rights Front convenor Johnson Yeung Ching-yin takes to the stage.
Yeung says the central government had made two mistakes. The first was to lie to Hong Kong for 30 years, the second was to attempt "to kill Hong Kong's democracy".
He urges protesters to each look for a friend or companion to join them in the Occupy Central movement.
Federation of Students secretary-general Alex Chow Yong-kang breaks into tears as he speaks.
"Hong Kong is the home court of Hongkongers!" he shouts.
7.35pm Seven police vehicles are parked in front of the City Hall, all with engine running.
7.25pm Groups of police officers are scattered along roads between Admiralty and Central. In the pictures, officers getting ready near City Hall.
Officers guard a corner near City Hall. Photo: Shirley Zhao

7.20pm Occupy leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting said the city would now officially enter an "era of civil disobedience".
"I know many people are here our of frustration. But we should not. Why? It's because we see hope," said Tai.
"Look at the person sitting next to you. That person will be occupying Central with you!
"We see injustice in society ... And we must voice out this unjust!
He did not give an exact date on when the actual date would take place due to legal concerns but urged participants to pay attention in the next week or two.
He said the movement would dovetail with the student boycotts and come in "wave after wave" of protest.
Police officers line up between Central and Admiralty. Photo: Ernest Kao

7.10pm Metal barricades are seen tied to roadside fences in several different places in Admiralty and Central. Police have previously said they would install at least 3,000 metal barricades along Chater Road, Queen's Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central. More police vans are seen parked on small streets such as Club Street, where another six police vehicles are seen.
Crowds of protesters at Tamar Park. Photo: Ernest Kao

7.10pm Throngs of people begin flowing into Tamar Park from Admiralty Centre.
Occupy Central organisers kick off the evening's events on stage.
Occupy co-organiser said the NPC's decision for electing the chief executive in 2017 did not meet international standards.
Twenty-five pan-democratic lawmakers took to the stage saying they would veto the plan in council and called for unity. They said the central government had deprived the Hong Kong public's right to choose by not including civic nomination.
6.55pm Small splinter protest groups rally outside the Chief Executive's Office. About 30 to 40 protesters waving national and Hong Kong flags chanted their support for the NPC'a decision and opposition the Occupy Central.
Another group waving colonial-era flags protested across the street. No clashes were seen. A large presence of police kept the two side apart.
Police vans parked in Central on August 31, 2014. Photo: SCMP Pictures

6.45pm Chater Road and Chater garden are relatively unguarded, occupied mostly by foreign domestic helpers.
The centre of the open area under the HSBC headquarters has been barricaded, with some construction work apparently going on. The area has been a popular gathering place among domestic helpers and protesters in the last few years.
Six police vans are parked on both sides of the small Bank Street between the HSBC headquarters and the Bank of China building, likely waiting to be dispatched.
Policemen guard a footbridge. Photo: Shirley Zhao

6.15pm Police presence near government headquarters in Tamar becomes more palpable, with about 30 uniformed officers seen on one of the footbridges leading to the government buildings. 

Beijing Rules Out Open Elections in Hong Kong

Benny Tai, right, co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, rallied democracy activists next to the Hong Kong government complex on Sunday.



AUGUST 31, 2014

HONG KONG — China’s legislature laid down strict limits on Sunday to proposed voting reforms in Hong Kong, drawing battle lines in what pro-democracy groups warned would be a deepening confrontation over clashing visions of the political future of the city and of China.

Pushing back against months ofrallies calling for free, democratic elections in Hong Kong, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee set out procedural barriers for candidates for the city’s top leader that would ensure Beijing remained the gatekeeper to that position and to political power over the city.

Li Fei, a deputy secretary general of the committee, told a news conference in Beijing that the nominating guidelines — including a requirement that candidates “love the country, and love Hong Kong” — would “protect the broad stability of Hong Kong now and in the future.”

The move closes one of the few avenues left for gradual political liberalization in China after a sustained campaign against dissent on the mainland this year under President Xi Jinping. In pressing its offensive in Hong Kong, Beijing has chosen a showdown with a protest movement unlike any it has ever faced on the mainland. Hong Kong’s opposition forces enjoy civil liberties denied in the rest of China and, capitalizing on those freedoms, have taken a more confrontational approach than seen before in Hong Kong.

A storm front moved over Hong Kong on Sunday as protesters began gathering before China’s legislature announced its decision on suffrage in the territory.


Hong Kong opposition groups and politicians who have campaigned for unfettered voting for the city’s leader, the chief executive, said the limits set by Beijing made a mockery of the “one person, one vote” that had been promised to Hong Kong.

“After having lied to Hong Kong people for so many years, it finally revealed itself today,” said Alan Leong, a pro-democracy legislator. “Hong Kong people are right to feel betrayed. It’s certain now that the central government will be effectively appointing Hong Kong’s chief executive.”

Occupy Central, the main Hong Kong group advocating open elections, said it was planning civil disobedience protests in the city’s commercial heart.

“We are very sorry to say that today all chances of dialogue have been exhausted,” the group said in an emailed statement. “The failure of this constitutional reform has dashed people’s hopes for change and will intensify conflicts in the society.”

From left, Edward Chin, organizer of Financial Professionals for Occupy Central, Benny Tai, co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, and the activist Bob Kraft addressed members of the news media at a protest outside government offices in Hong Kong on Friday.


Other groups were also preparing to protest, and the Hong Kong Federation of Students urged university students to boycott classes.

Beyond its consequences for this former British colony of 7.2 million people, the tight reins on Hong Kong politics reflect a fear among leaders in Beijing that political concessions here would ignite demands for liberalization on the mainland, a quarter-century after such hopes were extinguished on Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“They are afraid that caving in to Hong Kong would show weakness,” Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, said in a telephone interview. “They believe the political weakness will encourage Hong Kong to demand more and will give opponents of the party’s rule in China great confidence to challenge the party.”

Since taking leadership of the Communist Party almost two years ago, President Xi has orchestrated intense campaigns in China against political dissent and demands for competitive democracy, civil society and a legal system beyond party control. But Hong Kong presents special challenges.

Advocates and opponents of political liberalization alike have seen Hong Kong as a potential incubator for change in China since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Since then, the territory has had considerable autonomy and retained a wealth of Western-style freedoms under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems.”

The struggle over electoral change here pits the Chinese authorities and their allies in Hong Kong against an opposition that claims robust middle-class support, protections by the city’s independent judiciary and a voice in an independent, though beleaguered, news media.

“China’s two most important cities are Beijing and Hong Kong,” Hu Jia, a prominent dissident in Beijing, said in a telephone interview on Sunday. He said he had been placed under house arrest, like other dissidents, before the National People’s Congress announcement.

“In the territory controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, only Hong Kong has some space for free speech, some judicial independence, so it is a mirror for people on the mainland,” he said. “The outcome of this battle for democracy will also determine future battles for democracy for all of China.”

Chinese officials have accused Hong Kong’s democracy groups of serving as tools for subversion by Western forces seeking to chip away at party control.

Mr. Li, the legislative official, on Sunday accused them of “sowing confusion” and “misleading society” by arguing that elections for the chief executive should follow international standards. “Each country’s historical, cultural, economic, social and political conditions and circumstances are different, and so the rules formulated for elections naturally also differ,” he said.

Under current law, the chief executive is chosen by an Election Committee, whose approximately 1,200 members are selected by constituencies generally loyal to Beijing and the city’s business elite.

According to the Chinese legislature’s proposal, the leader would be chosen by popular vote starting in 2017, as promised, but candidates would first have to win an endorsement from at least half the members of a nominating committee. The composition of that committee would be based on that of the current Election Committee, according to the decision, announced at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Mr. Li said that the existing committee was already “broadly representative” of the Hong Kong electorate, and so would ​furnish the right basis for a nominating committee​ in future elections, ​an assertion that Hong Kong democrats have roundly rejected.

Democracy advocates expect that the new committee, like the existing one, would exclude candidates seen as unfavorable by Beijing.

Its composition would ensure “that democrats have no chance of getting nominated,” said Michael Davis, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong. In fact, he said, it would raise the bar. Candidates have to win only one-eighth of the support of the current committee but would have to win 50 percent under the new guidelines. “As far as I can see, the government has no capacity to offer a deal the democrats will take in this,” he said.

The Chinese government fears that direct nominations would allow candidates hostile to Beijing, and it has said direct nominations would also contravene the Basic Law, the document governing Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland.

The Hong Kong government will use the Chinese legislature’s proposal as a framework for an electoral reform bill. That bill then must win approval from the city’s 70-member Legislative Council, where the 27 democratic members could still block its passage by the required two-thirds majority.

Emily Lau, chairwoman of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, said they would. “We will veto this revolting proposal,” she said Sunday.

But C.Y. Leung, Hong Kong’s current, pro-Beijing chief executive, said killing the bill would also kill universal suffrage.

“Five million Hong Kong people would be deprived of the voting right that they would be otherwise entitled to,” he said. “We cannot afford a standstill in our constitutional development or else the prosperity, or stability, of Hong Kong will be at stake.”

The clash in Hong Kong will be more about winning over public opinion than winning control of the crowded streets. Opinion polls show that most Hong Kong citizens support the demand for “unfiltered” electoral choice, but also that many have qualms about possible disruption from protests.

The Chinese government and the Hong Kong political establishment have accused Occupy Central and allied groups of recklessly imperiling the city’s reputation for political stability and support for business. And many ordinary Hong Kong residents have voiced worry about any political conflict that could hurt their livelihoods.

But Occupy Central says it will engage in nonviolent civil disobedience calibrated to avoid major disruption. Its organizers have said that they do not plan to plunge immediately into any protests after the Chinese authorities announce their plans.

“We’re not making threats, we’re just sending warning signals,” said Mr. Tai, the co-founder of Occupy Central. “The house is on fire, something has to be done.”

Patrick Zuo contributed research from Beijing.

China insists on right to choose candidates for HK leader;_ylt=AwrBJSAiBwNULV8AH2LQtDMD
A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldier stands guard at the entrance to the PLA's Hong Kong Garrison headquarters in Hong Kong on August 29, 2014
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Hong Kong (AFP) - China insisted Sunday that candidates for Hong Kong's next leader must be screened in advance, triggering tears and fury in the city, where democracy activists vowed to press ahead with a planned takeover of the financial district.
The standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's rubber-stamp parliament, decided that the city's next chief executive will be elected by popular vote in 2017, but candidates must each be backed by more than half the members of a "broadly representative nominating committee".
Democracy activists in the semi-autonomous Chinese city say this means Beijing will be able to ensure a sympathetic slate of candidates and exclude opponents.
The pro-democracy group Occupy Central said it would go ahead with its threat to take over the city's Central financial district in protest, at an unspecified date.
Public discontent in Hong Kong is at its highest for years over perceived interference by Beijing, with the election method for the chief executive a touchstone issue.
"The principle that the Chief Executive has to be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong must be upheld," said the text of the decision, released by the official news agency Xinhua.
A vote by universal suffrage must have "institutional safeguards" to take into account "the actual need to maintain long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong", it said.
The nominating committee will pick two to three candidates, it added. The decision was passed unanimously.
NPC official Li Fei dismissed the democracy activists' demands, adding that Hong Kong's leader must be loyal to China's ruling Communist Party.
"The Hong Kong leader must be a person who loves the country and the Party. He should support the central government, its sovereignty and the benefits of development."
Leung Chun-ying, the city's current chief executive who was picked by a pro-Beijing committee, hailed the NPC's decision as a "major step forward in the development of Hong Kong's society".
"If we are willing, the majority of Hong Kong people, and that is some 5 million people eligible to vote, will no longer be bystanders in the next election," he told reporters.
- 'Darkest day' -
But Beijing's plan to vet candidates caused dismay among democracy advocates who said the proposal could not be considered genuine universal suffrage.
"There is no genuine choice. They (Beijing) will just give us one or two or three people they have chosen," Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau told AFP.
"This is one person, one vote, but there is no choice. They have that in North Korea but you can't call it democracy."
In an emailed statement, Occupy Central said: "All chances of dialogue have been exhausted and the occupation of Central will definitely happen".
A pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker broke down on live television after the NPC announcement, saying there was "no way out for Hong Kong".
"This is the darkest and most painful day for Hong Kong's democracy movement," said Ronny Tong of the Civic Party, sobbing on local broadcaster Cable TV.
His colleague Claudia Mo told AFP: "They're turning Hong Kong into a bunker and they can do whatever they want, basically.
Student leader Alex Chow said the NPC decision was "totally unacceptable".
"This is not universal suffrage, this is not democracy, it is about dictatorship, it's about controlling," he said. "We have no choice, we have to struggle and we have to fight back."
- Rival protests -
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement, which allows residents civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including free speech and the right to protest.
Since then the city's leader has been chosen by a 1,200 pro-Beijing committee. China promised a popular vote in 2017 but with strict curbs on candidates.
Pro-democracy protesters staged a mass march in July demanding a greater say over the choice of leader. The next month tens of thousands of people rallied against the Occupy Central campaign, in an event organised by the pro-government Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD).
An unofficial referendum organised by Occupy activists saw the majority of 800,000 people who voted supporting public nominations for chief executive.
In a counter-move, the APD mounted its own petition, backed by pro-Beijing groups and officials, and said it collected some 1.4 million signatures.
The pro-democracy movement has been strongly criticised by Beijing and city officials as illegal, radical and potentially violent.
State-run media on the Chinese mainland stepped up a campaign against the "extreme pan-democrats" in the run-up to Sunday's announcement, alleging interference by foreign countries.
Xinhua warned early Friday in a strongly worded article that the central government has "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong and "will always be involved" in its affairs.