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Durham University

IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Philippines files case for arbitration in South China Sea

(1 April 2014)

The Philippines is pressing ahead with an international arbitration claim against China over contested waters in the South China Sea.

Both sides have claims in the South China Sea with China maintaining that the Philippines is illegally occupying some of China’s islands and reefs. The move by the Philippines comes a day after a Philippine ship avoided Chinese coast guard vessels to bring supplies to troops on a disputed rich fishing shoal, known as Ayungin in Manila and Ren’ai Reef in Beijing. The shoal lies 120 miles from the Philippines and more than 350 miles from China.

The Philippines submitted a 4,000 page memorial, which includes more than 40 maps, to the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration on Sunday 30 March. The Philippines urges the tribunal to invalidate the ‘Nine-dash line’ that China uses on maps to justify its claims in the region, saying that China’s claims are illegal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei commented that China would not accept the arbitration and that the rejection of the submission is “solidly based on international law and China’s lawful rights as a party to UNCLOS should be truly respected”. He went on to add that China was “committed to managing and resolving relevant issues….through dialogue and consultation”.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said of the case, “It is about guaranteeing freedom of navigation for all nations” and that it would help “preserve regional peace, security and stability”. He also added that it was currently unknown “whether China will appear in the case, or whether it will continue its present policy of abstaining from the proceedings”.

The court is not expected to reach a decision before the end of 2015.


 “Philippines files case to UN in South China Sea Dispute”, BBC News, Monday 31 March 20014.

“China rejects Philippines case on ‘Nine-dash’ line”,, Monday 31 March 2014.


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