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A World Court Will Hear Challenges to China's Lion's-Share Claim on the South China Sea

To the dismay and angst of China, yesterday, an International Tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, exercised jurisdiction over a case the Philippines has brought against China's claim to a lion's-share of the South China Sea, and has decided to hear the case.

And with that ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, China's objection to the legitimacy of the court to hold the hearing has been overruled and the court will take evidence in the case before issuing a decision in the matter next year.

The court will hear evidence in the matter brought by the Philippines in January 2013 that challenges China's behemoth claim on the South China Sea as counter to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea(UNCLOS). The Philippines seeks that China claim claim should be declared invalid.

China has pressed that a nine-dash line map by the Chinese Nationalists in 1947 gives China control over some 90 percent of the resource-rich South China Sea. But in accepting the Philippines case, the International court has affirmed jurisdiction over the matter superseding Chinese law and China's preference to deal one-on-one with claimants on the South China Sea. Moreover, The Hague Court in accepting the case, has affirmed that the case involves "exploitation of rights" and not sovereignty.

The Philippines has welcomed the decision of the court while China has fretted that such proceedings would be impractical and "will lead nowhere." However, the International Court has taken a first step to bring actions on the South China Sea under international law.

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