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Prudence to help calm South China Sea waters

By Jin Yongming | China Daily | Updated: 2016-04-01 08:10

China's refusal to accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines in the South China Sea issue in 2013 is entirely in accordance with the law. In 2006, China exercised its right under Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to reject compulsory arbitration on the issue.

Although the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Manila's complaint will be announced later this year, a part of it has been released. And the available content of The Hague-based court's ruling has several flaws.

For one, it falsely judges the ownership of a low-tide elevation according to the UNCLOS' definition, which refers to "a naturally formed area of land which is surrounded by and above water at low tide but submerged at high tide". In contrast, it is international law that decides whether a low-tide elevation can be owned by a relevant coastal country, particularly when it comes to territorial acquisition. Many countries, including China and the Philippines, are yet to reach a consensus on the tidal datum, which plays a vital role in judging the ownership of low-tide elevations in the light of international law, leading to differences over delimitations in the South China Sea.

Prudence to help calm South China Sea waters

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