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A Triumph to International Law: a Blow to China - an Arbitration Court Rules on the South China Sea

In an explicit ruling against Chinese expansion and claims on the South China Sea, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, at The Hague, Netherlands, has ruled that China has no historic title over the South China Sea - a claim that China has uttered to justify its erection of islands from atolls, rocks and reefs, in the vast resource-rich sea, where there are competing claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, China and Vietnam.

In a victory for the Philippines which had brought the case against China back in 2013, the Arbitration Court earlier today also ruled that China breached the sovereignty of the Philippines with the actions China took to block Filipinos from the Scarborough Shoal. The court said China interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal. The court also found that China breached the Philippines' sovereign rights by exploring for oil and gas near Red Bank Shoal.

China has claimed some 85 percent of the South China Sea on the basis of a nine-dash line map, which allegedly, historically demarcated most of the sea to China. The International court found that China has no historical title over the waters.

Moreover, the court of International Law said none of China's claimed reefs in the Spratly Islands entitled China to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone in the contested area. China has been constructing islands, runways and other installations in the disputed region. However, the court also found that China had caused permanent harm to the coral reef ecosystem in the Spratlys.

China, which by choice, did not participate in the court case, has vowed to ignore the ruling by the International body. China has said that its armed forces would defend its sovereignty  and maritime interests. 

With regards to the court ruling, Ian Shorey of ISEAS, a Singapore Institute, according to Reuters, has determined: "This award represents a devastating blow to China's jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea." Meanwhile, the Philippines lead attorney on the case, Paul Reichler has declared: "The award is a complete and total victory for the Philippines...a victory for International Law and International Relations."

Vietnam has welcomed the ruling by the International Court and Japan has determined that the ruling is legally binding and final.

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