World / Asia-Pacific

Jurisprudence scholar works to 'tell the true story of this arbitration drama'

By Fu Jing In Brussels (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-08 07:37

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.

The court is a key institution that is supposed to play a fair role as go-between for disputing parties at international levels.

But when Peng heard that the Arbitral Tribunal appointed by the PCA in The Hague - a 45-minute train ride from her university - will be issuing a ruling on Tuesday on the South China Sea, she said the case had eroded her "passion and trust" in international law.

Jurisprudence scholar works to 'tell the true story of this arbitration drama'

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

From an academic perspective, Peng has many reasons to be critical of this case initiated by the Philippines.

First, the Philippines' appeals deal with what it presents as being 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 if both sides, China and the Philippines, authorize it to do so. But China has never asked for that and international law says China did not have to.

But the PCA went ahead to form a tribunal. "It is obvious that the PCA and tribunal have acted beyond their competence."

The West, spurred by Western media, has encouraged a biased understanding of the case, concluding that "China is threatening" without looking at the whole picture.

According to Peng, "A scholar of international law should shoulder responsibility to let the public know the true story."

Since the tribunal started work several years ago, she has organized two panel discussions of the case. She also mobilized up to 30 young Chinese scholars, law students and lawyers in the Netherlands, who had studied this case to draft a joint statement on their professional stances on the South China Sea case. They worked day and night on the text of the 12-page, 2,500-word open letter.

The scholars say in the letter that evidence shows that the tribunal has abused the legal process and acted wrongly. It concludes that the tribunal's award is not binding because the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the dispute.

So far, more than 300 supporters have offered their backing and by July 12, when the tribunal said it will announce its verdict, their number should surpass 1,000, Peng said.

She plans to make the open letter public before the tribunal's ruling is announced.

"We are fully prepared to take more actions so people at home and abroad know the true story about the case," she said.

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics