The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) [official website] in The Hague ruled [award, PDF; press release, PDF] in favor of the Philippines Tuesday in a dispute with China over most of the South China Sea. The Philippines brought a case against China in 2013 disputing the latter’s territorial claims. The PCA concluded that China does not have the right to resources within its “nine-dash line.” The ruling is considered a win for the Philippines and could raise tensions in the area. China has long disputed [JURIST report] the PCA’s jurisdiction over the matter and has rejected the ruling.
Territorial disputes over the South China Sea have been an ongoing source of tension [JURIST op-ed] between China and its neighboring countries. China claims nearly the entire 3.5 million square-kilometer South China Sea, a region believed to be rich in oil and minerals. China has come into territorial conflict over the region in the past, not only with the Philippines [JURIST op-ed], but also with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The Philippines and China were involved in a two-month standoff [Al Jazeera report] in 2012 around the Scarborough Shoal, a small cluster of uninhabitable islands 220 km off the coast of the Philippines, which, according to international maritime law, fall into the Philippines’ economic zone. The standoff was triggered when Chinese vessels blocked the Philippine navy from arresting Chinese fishermen for alleged illegal fishing activities within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones.