The Philippines v. China verdict: China’s crossroads
- Atty. Jay L. Batongbacal
‘An overwhelming victory’ is how Paul Reichler, lead counsel of the Philippines, describes the Award issued by Permanent Court of Arbitration Tribunal in the case of Philippines v. China concerning the South China Sea (SCS). The Tribunal unanimously granted all but a handful of Manila’s claims, and in doing so laid down a significant number of rulings that will reshape the discourse over the SCS disputes in the years to come.
First and foremost, the Tribunal definitively characterised and then struck down the most expansive of all the various claims to the SCS: China’s historic rights claims, as represented by the ‘nine-dash line’ map. The Tribunal held that clearly, any and all historic rights claims to waters beyond the territorial sea were relinquished and abandoned by China when it signed and ratified UNCLOS and thereby agreed with the establishment of the EEZ and continental shelf regimes in favour of all coastal states.