Manila vs Beijing ruling to affect nations with similar claims over islets: Analyst

(From The Philippine Star)

Other nations with expansive maritime claims over remote islets may have to reconsider their position if the international tribunal established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules in favor of Manila in its case against Beijing, an analyst said.

Paul Reichler, the Philippines's lead counsel for its case against China over maritime claims in the South China Sea, speaks before the international tribunal in the Hague in this file photo

Paul Reichler, the Philippines’s lead counsel for its case against China over maritime claims in the South China Sea, speaks before the international tribunal in the Hague in this file photo

The Philippines in 2013 filed an arbitration case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, to challenge the latter’s claims over the South China Sea. The ruling is expected to be out in May this year.

Academia Sinica research fellow Yann-Huei Song said that the expected favorable ruling for the Philippines may set a precedent that will affect the claims of several nations calling on China to abide by decision.

“For instance, Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, and the United States all make expansive maritime claims from remote islets that are not dissimilar in size or habitability to some of the Spratly Islands that the Philippines insists are legally rocks, not islands,” Song said in an article published in the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Song explained that all states with the similar claims may face pressure to abide by the precedent set if the tribunal rules that the features in the disputed sea are rocks and cannot generate a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf as stated in accordance with the Article 121 of UNCLOS.

“That means that McDonald Island (Australia), Clipperton Island (France), Saint Peter and Paul Rocks (Brazil), Okinotorishima (Japan), and Howland Island, Baker Island, and Kingman Reef (the United States) should generate only 12-nautical-mile territorial seas, not EEZs or continental shelves as their owners currently claim,” the maritime analyst said. Read More



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