People's Daily: S. China Sea arbitration case is just political farce

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-07-13 17:38

BEIJING, July 13 (ChinaMil) -- The arbitral tribunal of the South China Sea arbitration initiated at the request of the Philippines was away from the fair and objective direction at the beginning, falling into a private tool of some countries and persons.

According to the so-called arbitration documents released on July 12, all illegal claims by the Philippines were strictly "implemented" as arbitration results. This "submissive" and "spoiling" attitude actually proves that the tribunal is illegal and injustice and the arbitration is completely a political farce.

The so-called arbitration is a political provocation in the cloak of law, and its essence is to deny China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and reefs and maritime rights and interests.

When the law becomes a tool of political manipulation, the impartiality of the law will be gone. If we take a closer look at the actions of this arbitration tribunal, it is easy to find that it had become an agent of external forces.

One of the core demands of the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III is to ask the tribunal to judge that China’s historical rights violate the 1982 "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea" (hereinafter referred to as the "Convention"), in order to deny the South China Sea intermittent line, and further deny China’ smaritime rights in the South China Sea.

To serve the driving force behind, the arbitration tribunal did not hesitate to violate the basic rules of treaty interpretation and ignored other customary international laws that have the same effect with the Convention.

China enjoys historical rights in the South China Sea. Such rights go before the "Convention" and are formed in accordance with general international law.

Looking at the international practice, the historical rights obtained through long-term practice are complex and diverse. For this reason, in the drafting and formation process of the "Convention", there are no unified regulations on historic rights, nor would it replace historical rights.

On the contrary, the Convention shows respect for historical rights. For example, the article 298 of the "Convention" explicitly excludes "historical ownership" in the exclusion clauses of compulsory jurisdiction.

However, the arbitral tribunal forced to include the historical rights in the interpretation or application of the Convention, which exceeds tribunal judge authorization endowed by the Convention.

It is precisely because the historic rights are not within the scope of the adjustment of the "Convention" and the tribunal can only rule that the Philippines’ claims relate to disputes of the interpretation or application of the Convention. But the tribunal was unable to find the exact clause in the Convention. This practice is far-fetched and is not convincing at all.

The second core demand of the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III is to ask the tribunal to rule the legal status of some islands and reefs in China's Nansha Islands.

The arbitral tribunal is fully aware that it has no rights to hear the dispute concerning territorial sovereignty. But it deliberately turned a blind eye to the Philippines’ demands to deny China's territorial sovereignty.

The fact is very clear. On the same day when the Philippines started arbitration proceedings, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs issued a document on arbitration proceedings, stating clearly that the case is "to protect the territory and waters of our country" and "our actions aim to defend our national territory and waters." Accordingly, this is a case in respect of territorial sovereignty, which does not fall into the scope of the Convention.

However, the tribunal evaded the issue of sovereignty and proceeded with the trail on the territorial status of islands and reefs. This is far beyond the so-called interpretation and application of the Convention.

In addition, views on the relationship between the legal status of islands and reefs and maritime delimitation of some arbitrators in this case are completely contrary to their long-term point of view. This "self-betrayal" is obviously very difficult to understand from the academic and theoretical level. People cannot help but doubt arbitrators’ legal conscience and the impartiality of the tribunal.

At the same time, the contradictory trial and demonstration process of the arbitral tribunal is a complete departure from procedural justice in the practice of international justice.

In this regard, the Chinese Society of International Law and a number of academic institutions have published special reports to question and criticize the arbitral tribunal.

For example, the tribunal first preset conclusions, and then demonstrated it by the so-called "free proof." In invoking relevant international arbitration cases, the tribunal deliberately avoided common practice proved by most cases but only used controversial individual cases in its favor. The tribunal also ignored or deliberately belittled the weight of all the facts that favor China.

Moreover, the tribunal ignored authenticity, relevance and probative value of evidence, failed to practice international rules and favored the Philippines from the very beginning.

International judiciary and arbitration’s core values are fairness and objectivity. As a public tool to uphold justice, international judiciary and arbitration cannot take sides, otherwise, they will become a private tool.

Apparently, the tribunal deviated from this direction and become a private tool for some countries and persons in the first place. How pathetic it is!

The so-called tribunal finally came to an end. China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea will not subject to the so-called impact of the award under any circumstances. China does not accept any claims and actions based on that arbitration award!


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