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The Huangyan Island Standoff: A Review of the Claims and the Prospects for the Future

Wu Shicun May 5, 2012 Tags: Huangyan Island, military, South China Sea, Territorial Dispute FACEBOOK TWITTER WEIBO GOOGLE+ RSS EMAIL PRINT Starting on April 10th, China and the Philippines became embroiled in a standoff in disputed waters in the South China Sea. The standoff occurred when eight Chinese fishing boats, while taking refuge in a lagoon near Huangyan Island due to harsh weather, were harassed by the Philippine largest warship Gregorio del Pilar. Shortly after, two unarmed China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels which were conducting routine patrols in the area, appeared and interposed themselves between the fishing boats and the frigate thus preventing any arrest of the fishermen. In order to de-escalate the situation, Chinas fishing boats left the site on April 13th, followed by the withdrawal of two Chinese law enforcement vessels. China has shown restraint in handling the incident. On the contrary, the messages sent by the Philippine government and media have been rather provoking and of little help to keep the situation under control. The Philippine actions, such as urging other countries to take a stand and extending the dispute to the entire South China Sea, could only lead to more intensified situation instead of an appropriate solution. The harassment on April 10th is one of 700 similar cases in the last 12 years where fishermen from Tanmen in Hainan Province were arrested, robbed or assaulted by the armed forces of neighboring countries while fishing in the South China Sea, which has been their traditional fishing ground for generations. The neighboring countries have been taking advantage of Chinas restraint and have seriously violated the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). To respond to the blatant challenges, China has stepped up in protecting its sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its jurisdiction over the adjacent waters defined by the UNCLOS. China claims sovereignty over the Huangyan Island and jurisdiction rights over its adjacent waters

which are the traditional fishing ground for the Chinese fishermen. China was the first to discover Huangyan Island, name it, incorporate it into its territory and exercise jurisdiction over it. Huangyan Island was first discovered by Chinese in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368AD). In 1279, Huangyan Island was chosen as the point in the South China Sea when Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing performed surveying of the seas around China for Kublai Khan. Since its discovery, Huangyan Island has been incorporated as part of Zhongsha Islands into Chinese territory. Since 1949, Huangyan Island has been under consistent administration of Guangdong Province first and Hainan Province later. Since ancient times, the Chinese fishermen have been fishing around Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters. Many scientific expedition activities have been conducted in this area by different Chinese government agencies in various periods. First discovery, consistent administration, historical rights of fishing are all recognized as valid in international law to support territory claims. The Philippines never laid claims on Huangyan Island until 1997. Instead, its officials have repeatedly stated that the island was outside the Philippine territory. The Philippine maps published in 1981 and 1984 also indicate that Huangyan Island was outside the Philippine territory. The Philippines has made three arguments on its claim in different periods of time. The earliest argument was that Huangyan Island was closer to the Philippine territory. In fact, geographic proximity has long been dismissed by the international law and practice as the principle of the solution of territory ownership. The Philippines also argue that it inherited the sovereignty and jurisdiction over Huangyan Island from the US which controlled the island in 1950s as target range for military exercise. The argument is invalid in international law as the US control had infringed Chinas sovereignty over Huangyan Island. The latest argument is that Huangyan Island is located within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Its a false interpretation of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The basic principle of the law of the sea is the land dominates the sea, meaning it is the territorial sovereignty of coastal states that generates their sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the EEZ and over the continental shelf. The fact that Huangyan Island is within 200 nm off the Philippine coastline does not naturally give the Philippines sovereignty over it or make it part of its territory. UNCLOS allows coastal states to claim a 200nm EEZ, but does not grant them rights to undermine the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries. The UNCLOS should not be used as an excuse by any states to infringe the territorial sovereignty of other states. The Philippines attempts to misuse international laws to serve its interest. As a matter of fact, the Philippine claim runs counter to not only historical fact and legal principle but also its own legislation. The Philippine territory is set by a series of international treaties, including the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain in 1898, the Treaty of Washington between the United States and Spain in 1900 and the Treaty between United States and Great Britain in 1930. All of them state clearly that the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118th degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, while Huangyan Island is obviously outside the limit. The legal effects of these three

treaties have been reaffirmed by several official documents, such as the 1935 Philippine Constitution, the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty and a few Philippine republic acts. The Philippine legislations have proven that Huangyan Island has never been part of its territory. China has never changed its stance of resolving the standoff through peaceful diplomatic channels. All the Chinese vessels involved are civilian. The latest official statement from the Philippines is President Aquino IIIs overriding instructions to his military not to intensify the issue. Its a positive step that the Philippines has taken to share Chinas view of maintaining the overall peace and stability in the South China Sea and preserving the healthy and stable development of the bilateral relation in the best interest of the two countries. Peaceful resolution of the standoff could play an exemplary role in resolving similar incidents in the future. China attaches great importance to maintaining friendly and good-neighborly ties with Southeast Asian countries. It upholds the stance of resolving the South China Sea issue through peaceful means directly between claimant parties. However, the lack of mutual trust has caused misinterpretation of Chinas intentions and actions in the South China Sea. The dispute also serves as the stepping stone for powers outside the region to interfere. China has stepped up its patrol in the South China Sea to prevent dangerous actions that may infringe Chinas sovereign rights and interests and threaten the peace and stability in the region. Other parties are urged to play more constructive roles in safeguarding the peace and stability in the South China Sea. Wu Shicun is President of National Institute for South China Sea Studies
Huangyan Island Belongs to China

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The article by Save More Philip Bowring published by this paper on June 5 ("China's Invented History," op-ed) claims that China "invented" history on Huangyan Island. It is not only utterly misleading, but also totally mistaken. To assert that China "invented" history is a result of ignorance of history. China acquired sovereignty over Huangyan Island through discovery of and presence on the island before anyone else. Hundreds of years of jurisdiction has consolidated China's sovereignty over the island. Historic and legal evidences are explicit, clear, complete and thorough, as proved by official documents, local chronicles and official maps throughout Chinese history. China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island has long been recognized and respected by the international community and had not been disputed by the Philippines. On the contrary, the Philippine claim over the island has never been recognized by any other country. The claim that Huangyan Island belongs to the Philippines because it's closer to the country is a result of ignorance of the international law. In fact, "geographical proximity" has long been dismissed by the international law and practice as the principle of the solution of territory ownership. If countries can make territorial claims at will on the ground of "geographical proximity," the world political map might be a complete mess. The Philippine government has never denied clauses in relevant treaties that determine its territorial boundary. This is entirely different from the fact that the government of the People's Republic of China, since its very inauguration, has explicitly denied the unequal treaties imposed by Western imperialists. The Treaty of Paris of 1898, the Treaty of Washington in 1990, the Treaty Between Great Britain and the U.S. in 1930 (referred to as "the three treaties" hereinafter) all clearly provide that the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118 degrees east longitude, and the Huangyan Island is beyond its territory. The Philippine official statements have made clear that Huangyan Island is not within its territorial sovereignty. The Philippine Constitution in 1935, the U.S.-Philippine General Relations Treaty in 1947, the Philippine-U.S. Military Alliance Treaty in 1952, the Act 3046 set by Philippines about its territorial sea baseline on June 17, 1961 and the amendment of the territorial sea baseline by the Philippines in 1968 successively reaffirmed the legal validity of the three treaties. Various government departments and official representatives of the Philippines have, on many occasions, openly recognized that the territory of the Philippines is determined by the above-mentioned three treaties. The maps published by the Philippines in 2011 and before also determined its territory according to the three treaties. We doubt if the author of the article really understands the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. It, in its preamble, clearly states that its purpose is to establish, with due regard for the sovereignty of all states, a legal order for the seas and oceans. The convention does not contain any provision that concerns alteration of land territory of any country or empower any country to extend its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to another country's territory. The convention is by no means a law that determines territorial ownership. The Philippines has made territorial claims on the ground of "Huangyan Island is within the Philippines' EEZ, which, as per the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, extends 200 nautical miles off the coast" represents abuse and misinterpretation of the convention based on its unilateral interests. Tang Rui Spokesperson of the Office of the Commissioner of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Hong Kong

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China has sovereignty over Huangyan Island

(2012/06/08)

1. Why does China have sovereignty over Huangyan Island? (1) China started official astronomical surveying on Huangyan Island at least back in 13th century. (2) In 1935, the Chinese government officially released the name list of South China Sea islands. Huangyan Island, then named Scarborough Shoal, was included as a part of Zhongsha Islands in China's territory. In 1947, the Chinese government released a new name list of South China Sea Islands, in which Scarborough Shoal was included and renamed Minzhu (Democratic) Reef. In 1983, the Chinese government released again a name list of South China Sea Islands, which use Huangyan Island as the standard name for the island and Democratic Reef as an alternative name for it. All the official maps published by the Chinese governments of different periods marked Huangyan Island as a part of China's territory. (3) Many scientific expeditions to Huangyan Island have been organized by Chinese government. In October 1977 and June 1978, members of South China Sea Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted scientific research on the island respectively. In April 1985, a comprehensive science expedition on Huangyan Island was organized by Nanhai Suboffice of State Oceanic Administration of China. In 1994, 1995 and 1997, radio amateurs made radio expedition on Huangyan Island three times with the approval of Chinese government. 2. Why is Huangyan Island not part of the Philippine territory? (1) The Treaty of Paris (1898), the treaty of Washington (1900) and the treaty between Great Britain and the United States (1930) clearly delineated the limit

of the Philippine territory and Huangyan Island is outside this limit. The 1961 Republic Act No. 3046 and the 1968 Republic Act No. 5446 of the Philippines reaffirmed the Philippine territorial limits and Huangyan Island was not included. Neither was it used as a base point of baseline for measuring the breadth of the territorial sea of the Philippines. (2) The then Philippine ambassador to Germany clearly stated in his letter to a German radio amateur on February 5, 1900 that Huangyan Island "did not fall within the territorial sovereignty of the Philippines". The document issued by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Philippines to the American Radio Relay League on October 18 1994 also confirmed that the Philippine territorial limits and sovereignty were stipulated by Article 3 of the Treaty of Paris (1898) and that Huangyan Island " lies just outside the territorial boundaries of the Philippines." (3) Until 2011, official maps published in the Philippines still indicated that Huangyan Island is outside the Philippine territorial limit. (Please see appendix for the Official Maps of the Philippines below) 3. The Huangyan Island incident was provoked by the Philippine side. On 10 April, Chinese fishermen were conducting normal fishing inside the lagoon of Huangyan Island. A Philippine Navy gunboat showed up and sent speedboats to board some of Chinese fishing boats and harassed Chinese fishermen. When Chinese fishermen refused to sign a document that was an admission of conducting "illegal fishing", they were forced to take off their shirts and stand under the scorching sun. The Chinese public service ships later came to their rescue, and are conducting routine patrols in the area. Since Huangyan Island is an integral part of China's territory, there is no so called "dispute over Huangyan Island". The Chinese side wishes to resolve this incident with the Philippine side through diplomatic consultation.

Chinas International Law Argument on the Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan Island


by Julian Ku Interesting letter to the editor at the WSJ, defending Chinas claim to the disputed island/shoal/reef in the South China Seas. It is a good preview of Chinas international law argument as well as its view that UNCLOS is largely irrelevant to the dispute. To assert that China invented history is a result of ignorance of history. China acquired sovereignty over Huangyan Island through discovery of and presence on the island before anyone else. Hundreds of years of jurisdiction has consolidated Chinas sovereignty over the island. Historic and legal evidences are explicit, clear, complete and thorough, as proved by official documents, local chronicles and official maps throughout Chinese history. Chinas sovereignty over Huangyan Island has long been recognized and respected by the international community and had not been disputed by the Philippines. On the contrary, the Philippine claim over the island has never been recognized by any other country.

We doubt if the author of the article really understands the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. It, in its preamble, clearly states that its purpose is to establish, with due regard for the sovereignty of all states, a legal order for the seas and oceans. The convention does not contain any provision that concerns alteration of land territory of any country or empower any country to extend its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to another countrys territory. The convention is by no means a law that determines territorial ownership. The Philippines has made territorial claims on the ground of Huangyan Island is within the Philippines EEZ, which, as per the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, extends 200 nautical miles off the coast represents abuse and misinterpretation of the convention based on its unilateral interests. This is actually a similar argument to the kind of argument the UK is making over the Malvinas/Falkland. It is not about UNCLOS, but sovereignty, and sovereignty is largely a question of historical research. I still dont buy it, but it is a pretty respectable argument.

Analysis: Philippines weak claims over Scarborough Shoal


Posted on July 30, 2012 by Regel Javines

Scarborough Shoal is said to be abound of wealth. By historic claim, it is indisputable that China has sovereignty and jurisdiction over it. Will the Philippines succeed in disputing it by the principle of effective exercise of jurisdiction and occupation when in fact China has exercised jurisdiction over the years? (File Photo Retrieved from: solartv.ph)

Scarborough Shoal, indisputably, belongs to China. But, what is more controversial than that? There are more controversial issues or more demanding naked facts than stirring the storm of controversy. These are national security and economic or political relations with neighboring sovereign states such as Malaysia, Vietnam, China, etc. in the Southeast Asian region that should rather be strengthened. However, the disputed islands in South China Sea bear witness as the disputing sovereign states uncover their ambitions and loyalty to a Giant kingdom. For the Philippines alone, does it worth the economic sustenance and other national security Filipinos will be plagued shall the Philippine government continue asserting their weak points over the Scarborough Shoal a part of Chinas historic domain? Unfortunately these past days, the position of the Philippines to rather exercise self-restraint when entangled in a certain dispute, to preserve peace and stability, among others, has instigated a more provocative tactical approach to the controversy. Does the Philippine government think and hope that by constantly provoking China, the latter will give in? Will the Philippines succeed in disputing it under principles of public international law, especially through UNCLOS? In my previous commentary-analysis, China-Philippines Scarborough Shoal Dispute: Will there be another Falklands War in Asia?, the basis of claims of both disputing sovereign

states were introduced and exposed for a helpful, honest review. Now, I will try reiterating the bases of both states in claiming the Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea. However, let me stress this point: South China Sea is the universal, official name of the waters west of the Philippines, which the latter and the U.S. called it as, West Philippine Sea. First and foremost, for me, this name calling (West Philippine Sea instead of South China Sea) is an outright insult to the universal name, a trying-hard strategy, and an impeccable signal of a provocative inkling. The Philippines Assertions 1. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal is neither premised under the Treaty of Paris, nor on proximity but on certain principles of public international law. The Philippines cited the Palmas Island Case, in which the Netherlands has sovereignty over the island on the basis of effective exercise of jurisdiction. In relation to this, the Philippines claimed that: The Philippines has exercised both effective occupation and effective jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal since its independence. 2. The Philippine sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal is based on sovereign rights under UNCLOS or United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In my previous commentary-analysis, I concluded that China has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal on the basis of historic claim and constant claim or assertion of sovereignty over the years and counting. Not only that, I also concluded that this issue to be settled according to UNCLOS provisions is unwise, incompetent, and I will add, is self-serving to one party and adversarial to the other, especially to China. Furthermore, when the Constitution of a sovereign state is in trouble with the international law, the former should be followed. I believe, that even in disputes, such territorial conflict, this concept remains constant. Besides, the claimant-parties have expressed reservations upon their ratification of the UNCLOS declaring that such signing shall not in any manner affect the sovereign rights of their respective states. Then, who is fooling around? Weak Points of the Philippines Assertions First, the Philippines should not be too shy to use the Treaty of Paris as basis of territorial claim. Why? For all we know, the Treaty of Paris has long been internationally recognized, so long, before the birth of UNCLOS. Unfortunately, the 1987 Philippine Constitution (including those prior to 1987 Philipine Constitution) has not become too effective in laying out its territorial waters even until today when former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enacted the Philippine Baselines Law or the RA 9522 in 2009. Rather, this enacted law classified the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal as regimes of islands. Then, what a windfall trick? Who is now on the verge of doubts?

For the Philippines to classify Scarborough Shoal as regime of islands, is this implying that Philippines has no at all or doubtful to exercise full sovereign rights over Scarborough Shoal even if it addresses likewise an exercise of sovereignty and jurisdiction over it? Yes, it is. Then, it deprives the Philippines to redeem exclusive economic zone or EEZ and continental shelf, if the Article 121 (Regime of Islands) of UNCLOS is defined strictly. Consequently, the Philippines lost its sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal the moment the Philippine government classified it as regime of islands. Because from the standpoint of a sovereign state being guilty ofacquiescence amidst the constant claim of China of its jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal over the years, and the 1992 Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone that reaffirmed Chinas claim way back in 1947, it can be deduced that the Philippines either emphatically left that issue to UNCLOS, or impliedly subscribed to Chinas long-standing claim over Scarborough Shoal. Furthermore, over the years before 2009, the conduct of the Philippines with regard to Scarborough Shoal has revealed a humble admission, implied recognition, and outright acquiescence to the constant claim of China over the islands in South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal. Therefore, RA 9522 in 2009 is weak in asserting Philippine claim of jurisdiction and sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal. Furthermore, UNCLOS provision on Regime of Islands would simply become moot and academic because China over and over the years has already claimed sovereignty and jurisdiction over Scarborough Shoal very long before the UNCLOS ratification and these early years of active claim of the Philippines.

Besides, UNCLOS provision on Regime of Islands is as vague as its being concise to interpret. Then, whats the point in bringing up the issue to the international law such UNCLOS for it to settle down China-Philippines territorial dispute? Pointless. Second, the Philippines should not be too assuming, too confident to claim effective occupation and jurisdiction over Scarborough Shoal. Moreover, the Philippines should not rely only on the Palmas Island Case because under the international law, it can not serve as warrant for the Philippines to expect of the same response to a related problem to win such case by invoking the principle of effectiveness as far as sovereignty and jurisdiction over the disputed territory is concerned. Scarborough Shoal, including the rest of islands in South China Sea, has different determining factors, to be accurate, has intertwining, complex understanding to decide jurisdiction over it. However, one thing is very clear not only to the Filipinos but to the international arena that China has been exercising a constant claim over the disputed territory so many years back. As far as we know, the Philippines should be guided that China over the years and counting has exercised effective occupation and effective jurisdiction over the disputed area, as well. Third, the Philippines asserted that its acquiescence must be affirmative. This is a weak defense. Where in the hell you consider overdue acquiescence as positive or active in claiming jurisdiction when the other party is constantly asserting it with the same claim? Overdue silence cannot be equated to active, affirmative claim. When an international law considers it affirmative, there is a different story we are sure of. For over the years when China repeatedly, constantly claimed sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal, the world never heard of the Philippines protesting Chinas claim not until these early years. Is this the way we must consider it affirmative? I believe that international communities have observed Chinas strong claim over Scarborough Shoal. In fact, its 1992 Declaration affirmed their ardent claim in as early as 1947 and preserved their jurisdiction over it as early as the Yuan Dynasty in 1279. Finally, the Philippines asserted to bring up the issue to the international tribunal in accordance with UNCLOS provisions. This is self-serving as I have said in the preceding discussion. Because before the claimant-disputing parties ratified UNCLOS, they have already their Constitutions and Laws on territorial basis and both have expressed reservations. Then, whats the point? There is a point, anyway; it is an amicable settlement that would compromise each sovereign rights. Supplemental Weak Points of the Philippine Claim First, surfaced ancient maps in as early as 1598 do not correlate to the Philippine claim at that period as official territorial breadth. Rather, those ancient maps are documentary evidence of ancient expeditions and geographical representation of explorations and routes.

In fact, those ancient maps, if and only if they will be used as territorial evidence, they are tantamount to an affront to the Treaty of Paris, which clearly does not include Scarborough Shoal in the Philippine territory. I would like to stress that the Philippines can not ignore the efficacy and the legality of the Treaty of Paris, including the 1987 Philippine Constitution on territorial emphasis that never clearly addressed the Scarborough Shoal as part of its territorial claim. The enacted 2009 Baseline law never clearly emphasized a legitimate claim of sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal either; rather it was classified as regime of islandsvery suggestive that the Philippines recognized its illegitimate claim of sovereignty and jurisdiction over those islands being classified. Second, the 1916 Philippine Supreme Court decision pertaining to the Scarborough tragedy is with all due respect can not be construed as clear manifestation that the Philippines has long been exercising jurisdiction over the Scarborough Shoal. According to raisarobles.com that Dr. Jay Batongbacal, a University of the Philippines law professor stated: The lawsuit decided by the Philippines top court in 1916 led by Filipino Chief Justice Cayetano Arellano is clear evidence that we were exercising jurisdiction over the shoal and incidents on it during the American colonial period in the Philippines. Dr. Jay Batongbacal, according to the blog, added: This case is proof we are the ones responsible when it comes to shipwrecks on Scarborough. Firstly, the shipwreck incident was happened during the American colonial period in the Philippines. Treaty of Paris exist. What the treaty does not say so about Philippine territorial waters, the incident can not supplant instant jurisdiction of a colony over what the treaty has specified. Moreover, because the incident was happened during American colonial period in the Philippines, why the Philippines has to claim not America? Seriously because of proximity? Proximity does not guarantee a jurisdiction over a proximate territory. Finally, should Dr. Batongbacal be correct in his opinion, then, the Philippine claim of jurisdiction over Scarborough will jeopardize the legality of the Treaty of Paris on the Philippine territorial specification. How was it? Secondly, the shipwreck incident was happened proximate to the Philippine territory. It has become our standard of thinking that in every accident the first thing you think of are: what is the nearest safe place? Or, what is the nearest police station to inform about the accident?

The Philippines is the nearest island from the shipwreck incident that is why the Philippines was the first instance to investigate the incident. It should be noted that during that period, international laws have not yet been polished. Moreover, the proximity of the incident that happened calls on the immediate position of the Philippines to respond to the incident. But, this proximity and response can not be construed outright as having a territorial jurisdiction just because the responding entity has investigated and decided the case happened in that proximate place. Call this as a call of time or chance. Why? It is because of the Treaty of Paris that specifically delineated the Philippine territory, and the Philippines can not deny about it or set aside it, either. I believe that for China-Philippines dispute to end, self-restraint and bilateral agreement between the conflicting sovereign states would be rightful and equitable to push through. Cooperation and respect of history of every sovereign state can make a difference toward strengthening economic and political relations with all neighboring countries. The Philippines has rich and very sacrosanct history in restoring democracy. For China and other countries to deny such facts, Filipinos will have no longer confidence to face their identity. The same will hold true to China when her neighbors challenged the veracity and integrity of her history. Nobody allows to be deprived of historic domain. The cold silence of the Philippines pertaining to the disputed shoal over the years did only show Philippine recognition of Chinas fervent claim over the Scarborough Shoal.

Scarborough Shoal not Philippines


By Chen Hurng-yu

The paper then criticizes Chinas historical claim over the Scarborough Shoal. It says that a historical claim does not equal a historical title in international law. A historical claim on its own is not a sufficient basis for acquiring a historical title, and demonstrating long usage is also not enough. It says that such usage must be open, continuous and acquiesced to by other states. It says that other states silence about a claim is not acquiescence under international law, and that acquiescence must be affirmative such that other states recognize the claim as a right on the part of the claimant and agree that other states have a duty to respect it. The paper

concludes that the international community has never acquiesced to Chinas historical claim. Taiwanese and Chinese fishermen have long made use of the shoal and the waters around it. Other nearby countries may have never discovered the shoal, in which case there can be no question of the usage of it being open and acquiesced to by other states. Besides, until recently, the shoal and its adjacent waters had never been an area of contention among surrounding countries. When the Republic of China (ROC) announced the inclusion of the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, ) in its territory in 1947, the Philippines did not voice opposition. At the time, many members of the international community recognized the islands belonged to the ROC. Many maps around the world can be held up as evidence that they do belong to the ROC. On Sept. 2, 1956, and in February 1957, the US was granted permission by the ROC to carry out topographical surveys around the Scarborough Shoal, the Macclesfield Bank and other areas. It was not until the mid-1960s that the Philippines made its own claim to the shoal, prompted by the idea that there could be oil and natural gas reserves in the area. So there is some doubt about the Philippines motive for staking a claim. With relation to the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands, no matter what kind of legal claim the Philippines puts forward, it cannot go beyond the territories included in the Treaty of Paris. The Treaty of Paris is internationally recognized and has long been implemented in the South China Sea. If the Philippines appropriates the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands on the pretext of effective jurisdiction, it will be guilty of the flagrant occupation of another countrys territory. Chen Hurng-yu is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Asian Studies at Tamkang University.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Solid evidence supports China's sovereignty claim over Huangyan Island


English.news.cn 2012-05-10 21:16:29
Video>> China urges discussion over Huangyan Island

China: Philippines' sovereignty claim over Huangyan Island "illegal" Backgrounder: Basic facts on China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island

BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Historical evidence and international laws strongly support China's sovereignty claim over Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, said an article carried by the PLA Daily Thursday. Based on general practice in international affairs, historical evidence and laws are two inseparable factors to judge and prove a country's sovereignty over a certain territory, said the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). For centuries, China has claimed sovereignty over Huangyan Island while the Philippines' recent arguments were simply tricks and self-contradictions, according to the article. CHINESE FIRST DISCOVERED HUANGYAN ISLAND According to many historical documents, Chinese first discovered the group of reefs and islets about 550 sea miles south of Hainan Island, and the surrounding waters in the South China Sea, and named the area "Zhanghai," or the Rising Sea, as early as over 2,000 years ago. From the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279) to the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1912),

CHINA HAS LONG EXERCISED JURISDICTION OVER HUANGYAN ISLAND China's long-term effective jurisdiction over Huangyan Island offers an important proof for its sovereignty claim. There were a number of government actions involving the island, for instance, the territorial survey in the 13th century, the newspaper article wrote. Li Hongyun, expert with the Law School of the Peking University, told the newspaper that the Chinese government officially announced the name of Huangyan Island respectively in 1935, 1947 and 1983 and all the official maps published by Chinese governments in different historical periods marked Huangyan Island as Chinese territory. The island has been consistently under administration of China's Guangdong province first and Hainan province later. It is currently administered by the administration office for the Xisha Islands, Zhongsha Islands and Nansha Islands under Hainan province. Since the 1970s, the Chinese government has approved many applications from foreign adventurers requesting to visit the island, Li said. These actions are entirely official and governmental, which directly proves China's sovereignty over the island, Li said. INTERNATIONAL TREATIES EXCLUDE HUANGYAN ISLAND FROM THE PHILIPPINES The territory of the Philippines is set by a series of international treaties due to its special history. Zhang Haiwen, deputy director with the China Institute for Marine Affairs, told the newspaper that all the related international treaties, including the Treaty of

Paris (1898), the Treaty of Washington (1900) and the Treaty between Great Britain and the United States (1930) have stated clearly the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118 degrees east longitude, while Huangyan Island, located 117 degrees 48 minutes east longitude, is outside this limit. Moreover, the 1946 Treaty of General Relations between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines, the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the 1961 Republic Act No.3046 and the 1968 Republic Act No.5446 have reaffirmed the legal effects of the above-mentioned treaties and once again expressively defined the Philippine territorial limits which never included Huangyan Island. FFICIAL PHILIPPINE MAPS LONG EXCLUDE HUANGYAN ISLAND "During a rather long period, the Philippine legal documents, official papers and national maps never involve Huangyan Island," said Li Guoqiang. Under the Philippines domestic laws and regulations, including the 1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Huangyan Island is outside the territory of the Philippines and even the baseline points and baseline of the Philippine territorial waters have never touched upon Huangyan Island. Philippine maps published in 1981 and 1984 also indicate that Huangyan Island is outside the country's territory. Until 1997, the Philippines never challenged China's jurisdiction over Huangyan Island and repeatedly stated that Huangyan Island was not part of its territory. The documents issued by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Philippines on Oct. 18, 1994, and by the Philippine Amateur Radio Association to the American Radio Relay League on Nov. 18, 1994, both confirmed that the Philippine border and sovereignty was stipulated by the

Article 3 of the Treaty of Paris (1898) and Huangyan Island is outside of Philippine territory. NO LEGAL BASIS FOR PHILIPPINES' DEMAND The Philippines argued that Huangyan Island was its "inherent territory" because the island was in its 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. Li Hongyun told the newspaper that, as a basic principle clearly stated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country must have sovereignty over the land before it claims sovereignty over the adjacent sea waters. The Philippines claimed sovereignty over the waters before making a claim for the land, which was obviously wrong, Li said. It recently claimed sovereignty over Huangyan Island on the basis of exercising jurisdiction on the island and cited the case of the Island of Palmas, which confirmed the principle that a country could claim sovereignty for its long-term and effective jurisdiction over the land. "China agrees on the principle and, it is based on the principle that China has sovereignty over Huangyan Island for it has implemented long-term and effective jurisdiction," Li said. In addition, geographic proximity, which formed part of the Philippines' claim, is no solution to territorial entitlement as international laws and practices have early defined. Such examples can be found everywhere in the world that a country owns a remote land that is geographically nearer to other nations, the article said.

The principle of geographic proximity would no doubt cause big chaos if it was applied in territorial affairs, the article said. Related:
China, Philippines resume Huangyan Island diplomatic contact

BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday said it had noticed the resumption of diplomatic contact between the Philippine Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Manila. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked to comment on new remarks from the Philippine side.Full
story China urges Philippines to stop further harming bilateral relations

BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The spokesman of Chinas Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hong Lei condemned Philippines for inciting its people going on to streets for demonstrations against China. Hong says the incident has triggered severe concerns among Chinese people. He also says China hopes Philippines to stop further harming the bilateral relations. Hong reiterated Chinas stance on the dispute and urged Philippines not to taken any actions that may harm the relations between the two countries. Full story
Commentary: Never test China's will to defend its own sovereignty

BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- For nearly a month, Manila has not only turned a deaf ear to Beijing's position on resolving the dispute over China's Huangyan Island through diplomacy, but made repeated provocative moves to heighten the tension, severely infringing China's sovereignty in the process.

It is widely accepted Huangyan Island has been an integral part of China since ancient times, both on a historical and a legal basis. The surrounding waters are China's traditional fishing grounds and Chinese fishmen have fished there for generations. Full story
China is prepared for escalation of Huangyan Island incident

BEIJING, May 8 (Xinhua) -- China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said China is not optimistic about the situation concerning Huangyan Island, and the country is fully prepared to respond to anything the Philippine side does to escalate the situation. Fu made the remarks when meeting with Alex Chua, Charge D'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China, on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a press release. Full story
The Huangyan Island Standoff: A Review of the Claims and the Prospects for the Future Wu Shicun May 5, 2012 Peace & Security Starting on April 10th, China and the Philippines became embroiled in a standoff in disputed waters in the South China Sea. The standoff occurred when eight Chinese fishing boats, while taking refuge in a lagoon near Huangyan Island due to harsh weather, were harassed by the Philippine largest warship Gregorio del Pilar. Shortly after, two unarmed China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels which were conducting routine patrols in the area, appeared and interposed themselves between the fishing boats and the frigate thus preventing any arrest of the fishermen. In order to de-escalate the situation, Chinas fishing boats left the site on April 13th, followed by the withdrawal of two Chinese law enforcement vessels. China has shown restraint in handling the incident. On the contrary, the messages sent by the Philippine government and media have been rather provoking and of little help to keep the situation under control. The Philippine actions, such as urging other countries to take a stand and extending the dispute to the entire South China Sea, could only lead to more intensified situation instead of an appropriate solution. The harassment on April 10th is one of 700 similar cases in the last 12 years where fishermen from Tanmen in Hainan Province were arrested, robbed or assaulted by the armed forces of neighboring countries while fishing in the South China Sea, which has been their traditional fishing ground for generations. The neighboring countries have been taking advantage of Chinas restraint and have seriously violated the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the

South China Sea (DOC). To respond to the blatant challenges, China has stepped up in protecting its sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its jurisdiction over the adjacent waters defined by the UNCLOS. China claims sovereignty over the Huangyan Island and jurisdiction rights over its adjacent waters which are the traditional fishing ground for the Chinese fishermen. China was the first to discover Huangyan Island, name it, incorporate it into its territory and exercise jurisdiction over it. Huangyan Island was first discovered by Chinese in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368AD). In 1279, Huangyan Island was chosen as the point in the South China Sea when Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing performed surveying of the seas around China for Kublai Khan. Since its discovery, Huangyan Island has been incorporated as part of Zhongsha Islands into Chinese territory. Since 1949, Huangyan Island has been under consistent administration of Guangdong Province first and Hainan Province later. Since ancient times, the Chinese fishermen have been fishing around Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters. Many scientific expedition activities have been conducted in this area by different Chinese government agencies in various periods. First discovery, consistent administration, historical rights of fishing are all recognized as valid in international law to support territory claims. The Philippines never laid claims on Huangyan Island until 1997. Instead, its officials have repeatedly stated that the island was outside the Philippine territory. The Philippine maps published in 1981 and 1984 also indicate that Huangyan Island was outside the Philippine territory. The Philippines has made three arguments on its claim in different periods of time. The earliest argument was that Huangyan Island was closer to the Philippine territory. In fact, geographic proximity has long been dismissed by the international law and practice as the principle of the solution of territory ownership. The Philippines also argue that it inherited the sovereignty and jurisdiction over Huangyan Island from the US which controlled the island in 1950s as target range for military exercise. The argument is invalid in international law as the US control had infringed Chinas sovereignty over Huangyan Island. The latest argument is that Huangyan Island is located within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Its a false interpretation of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The basic principle of the law of the sea is the land dominates the sea, meaning it is the territorial sovereignty of coastal states that generates their sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the EEZ and over the continental shelf. The fact that Huangyan Island is within 200 nm off the Philippine coastline does not naturally give the Philippines sovereignty over it or make it part of its territory. UNCLOS allows coastal states to claim a 200nm EEZ, but does not grant them rights to undermine the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries. The UNCLOS should not be used as an excuse by any states to infringe the territorial sovereignty of other states. The Philippines attempts to misuse international laws to serve its interest. As a matter of fact, the Philippine claim runs counter to not only historical fact and legal principle but also its own legislation. The Philippine territory is set by a series of international treaties, including the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain in 1898, the Treaty of Washington between the United States and Spain in 1900 and the Treaty between United States and Great Britain in 1930. All of them state clearly that the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118th degree meridian of

longitude east of Greenwich, while Huangyan Island is obviously outside the limit. The legal effects of these three treaties have been reaffirmed by several official documents, such as the 1935 Philippine Constitution, the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty and a few Philippine republic acts. The Philippine legislations have proven that Huangyan Island has never been part of its territory. China has never changed its stance of resolving the standoff through peaceful diplomatic channels. All the Chinese vessels involved are civilian. The latest official statement from the Philippines is President Aquino IIIs overriding instructions to his military not to intensify the issue. Its a positive step that the Philippines has taken to share Chinas view of maintaining the overall peace and stability in the South China Sea and preserving the healthy and stable development of the bilateral relation in the best interest of the two countries. Peaceful resolution of the standoff could play an exemplary role in resolving similar incidents in the future. China attaches great importance to maintaining friendly and good-neighborly ties with Southeast Asian countries. It upholds the stance of resolving the South China Sea issue through peaceful means directly between claimant parties. However, the lack of mutual trust has caused misinterpretation of Chinas intentions and actions in the South China Sea. The dispute also serves as the stepping stone for powers outside the region to interfere. China has stepped up its patrol in the South China Sea to prevent dangerous actions that may infringe Chinas sovereign rights and interests and threaten the peace and stability in the region. Other parties are urged to play more constructive roles in safeguarding the peace and stability in the South China Sea. Wu Shicun is President of National Institute for South China Sea Studies