Carpio rallies Filipinos: Teach Chinese people they don’t own South China Sea
Acting Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday called on the Filipino people to help educate Chinese people that their country’s historical claim on nearly the entire South China Sea was “totally false” and “has no basis.”
Amid the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, Carpio also said Filipinos should “encourage all navies of the world to exercise freedom of navigation in the high seas and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the South China Sea.”
In a forum hosted by the Association of Congressional Chiefs of Staff in the House of Representatives, Carpio noted how it could be “very difficult” to convince the Chinese government to comply with The Hague ruling when all the Chinese people believe they own it.
“So it’s very difficult. We won the arbitration. The Tribunal said China does not own the South China Sea… Now how do you convince the Chinese government to comply with the ruling when the China population believes that they own it?” asked Carpio, one of the leading figures in the Philippines’ arbitration victory against China.
“The Chinese government today would not comply with the ruling until the Chinese people understand that that historical narrative is totally false.”
“Ask the peoples of the world to help the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei to explain to the Chinese people that China has no historic claim to the South China Sea,” he also said.
Carpio further said encouraging all navies of the world to exercise freedom of navigation in the high seas and EEZs of the South China Sea would “affirm and enforce the ruling of the Tribunal that there are high seas and EEZs in the South China Sea.”
“The waters in the high seas belong to all mankind, and the resources in the EEZ belong solely to the adjacent coastal states,” he added.
The United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and other powerful countries have been sailing both on the high seas and EEZs in the South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation in the highly-contested waterway.
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled as invalid Beijing’s claim over vast portions of the South China Sea. China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including waters within the EEZs of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines (the West Philippine Sea), Vietnam, and Taiwan.
Carpio believed the Chinese government would not give up their claim on the disputed territory – which he called the most important waterway now – because that would “villainize” them.
“If the Chinese government will comply with the ruling today, that would villainize them in the eyes of the Chinese people, who really believe they own the South China Sea. The Chinese people may even overthrow the Chinese government for giving away their sovereignty,” he explained.
“They have this mantra, we will not give away a square inch of our sacred territory that was given to us by our ancestors,” he added.
At the forum, Carpio explained China’s historical claim on the entire South China Sea and how the Philippine delegation debunked it before the Arbitral Tribunal.
Carpio presented an excerpt from China’s position paper on December 7, 2014 before the Tribunal which states that: “Chinese activities in the South China Sea date back to over 2,000 years ago. China was the first country to discover, name, explore and exploit the resources of the South China Sea Islands and the first to continuously exercise sovereign powers over them.”
The economic giant also argued their claim by presenting the nine-dashed line map.
But Carpio said the Philippines proved that China “never owned or controlled the South China Sea at any time in its history” by submitting to the Tribunal over 170 ancient maps – the “highest number of ancient maps ever submitted to an international tribunal.”
These include Chinese maps from the Song to the Qing dynasties, Philippine and Southeast Asian maps, and European maps of Asia.
“The Philippines submits that Chinese historic maps dating back to 1136, including those purporting to depict the entirety of the Empire of China, consistently show China’s territory extending no further south than Hainan,” notes the Philippines’ declaration before the Tribunal, as read by Carpio.
Carpio further explained that China only started to claim the Spratlys when it released its nine-dashed line map in 1947. Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) appears in this map but without a name, he said.
When China argued that the Philippines does not have sovereignty over Spratlys and Scarborough because these territories lie outside the treaty lines mandated under the 1898 Treaty of Paris, Carpio said the Philippines countered it by citing the 1900 Treaty of Washington.
In the Treaty of Washington, Carpio said Spain clarified that it had also relinquished to the United States “all title and claim of title, which (Spain) may have had at the time of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace of Paris, to any and all islands belonging to the Philippine Archipelago, lying outside the lines” of the Treaty of Paris.
Most important waterway
The Acting Chief Justice also underscored that the South China Sea was the most important waterway nowadays.
He also cited a Business Insider article, which reported that US$5.3 trillion in ship-borne goods traverse the South China Sea annually, “accounting for almost one-half of the world’s ship-borne trade in tonnage.”
He added that 12 percent of the annual global fish catch comes from the South China Sea, worth US$21.8 billion.
Further, maritime areas close to the coast of countries bordering the South China Sea are rich in oil and gas, Carpio said, adding that the South China Sea itself is also rich in methane hydrates. /kga
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