UN court sets 1st hearing on PH sea case vs China

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015 - Last Updated on January 13, 2017

The Philippines will present its case against China’s claim over the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) starting July 7 before The Hague.

The Philippines’ case, which was lodged in January 2013 at the Netherlands-based UN court, seeks to declare China’s claim invalid and against the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which both countries have ratified.

“Right now we are preparing for the oral arguments in The Hague on July 7 to 13. Our team from Manila and from the United States will be flying there,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a report.

US lawyers will assist Philippine officials and diplomats during the proceedings, according to Jose.

China has stepped up its activities over the disputed waters despite opposition from other claimant countries that include the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

Beijing has recently announced that it will complete some of its land reclamation work on the Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea.

“China will complete its reclamation project soon as part of its South China Sea construction in parts of the Nansha islands,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to Spratlys as the Nansha islands.

China has asserted that its reclamation work is mean to help activities such as maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, navigational security and military purposes.

The United States has disclosed that it is doing reconnaissance work over China’s construction activities in the disputed territory.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Monday that the Philippines should be wary in entering into bilateral talks with China.

“China has submitted a position paper to the tribunal objecting to the arbitration. One of the grounds of China is that we did not resort to negotiations first,” Carpio said, adding that the Philippines should make it clear that it pressed for talks before filing the case but China rejected the proposal.

UNCLOS requires that concerned countries negotiate first before filing a compulsory arbitration case at the international court.

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