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China's position on Huangyan island (Scarbourough Shoal)
2014/04/04

China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan island.

Firstly, China was the first to discover and name Huangyan Island and also the first to include it into China's territory and has never stopped its effective jurisdiction over it even since 13th century, much earlier than the independence of the Philippines.

Prior to 1997, the Philippines hadn't raised objection to the Chinese Government's exercise of sovereign administration, development and exploitation of Huangyan Island. On the official maps published by the Philippine in 1981, 1984, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and even 2011, Huangyan Island is marked outside the boundary of the Philippines.

Secondly, the Philippines' position on Huangyan Island has been inconsistent and self-contradictory and is absolutely groundless according to the international law.

In the late 1990s, the Philippines advanced it territorial claim over Huangyan Island on the ground of geographic proximity and on the excuse that Huangyan Island is located within the 200 nautical miles of the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) according to its one-sided interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, the principle of geographic proximity does not provide the legal basis for territorial sovereignty while coastal states have no rights to undermine other countries' inherent territorial sovereignty based on UNCLOS. Since 2012, the Philippines have given a new reason for its claim, saying that the Philippines has effectively occupied and managed Huangyan Island ever since its independence, that is totally in disregard of historical facts and legal evidence.

Thirdly, Claims for arbitration raised by the Philippines are essentially concerned with maritime delimitation in the South China Sea, which inevitably involves sovereignty of relevant islands and reefs. But such issues of territorial sovereignty are not the ones concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS.

By requesting the international arbitration, the Philippines tries to mix up those two things, which is obviously contrary to the purpose and content of the UNCLOS.

While the territorial disputes over islands and reefs are still pending, the compulsory dispute settlement procedures as contained in the UNCOLS should not apply. China's refusal of the arbitration request by the Philippines is well founded on and strictly in accordance with international law.

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