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Young scholars counter court action

By Fu Jing (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-07-10 11:26 Comments

Young scholars counter court action

Overseas scholars of international law hold copies of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in hands in front of the Peace Palace in Hague, Netherlands on July 8, 2016. They try to seek justice of the international law by publicizing an open letter about scholars' professional stance on the South China Sea case. [Photo by Fu Jing/China Daily]

Overseas Chinese student of international law joins lawyers in challenging the South China Sea tribunal

After studying international law for 11 years, 29-year-old Chinese student Peng Qinxuan is due to obtain her doctorate soon in the Netherlands, which hosts the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice.

The two courts are key institutions that are supposed to play a fair role as a go-between for disputing parties at international levels.

But when she heard that the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea, appointed by the PCA in The Hague - a 45-minute train ride from her university - will be issuing a ruling on July 12 on the South China Sea, she says this case has eroded her lasting "passion and trust" in international law.

"I have been closely watching what has happened in the tribunal in previous years and as the day of issuing the ruling is approaching, we, as scholars of international law, are in a perfect professional position to comment and tell the true story of this arbitration drama," Peng, who studies at Utrecht University, told China Daily.

From an academic perspective, Peng has many reasons why this case, initiated by the Philippines, has eroded her "trust and passion".

First, the appeals of the Philippines are purely about maritime entitlement, while China insists that this is a sovereignty dispute, on which the PCA has no jurisdiction under the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Second, the tribunal can only arbitrate under the precondition that both sides, China and the Philippines, authorize it to do so, in line with international law. But China has never asked for that, and international law says China did not have to do so.

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