8:31 pm | Friday, August 22nd, 2014
Wu Shicun, president of National Institute for South China Sea Studies. Photo from http://www.nanhai.org.cn
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 INQUIRER.net.
“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.