Philip­pines re­veals true colors in ar­bi­tra­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

The hear­ing on the mer­its of the South China Sea ar­bi­tra­tion case fur­ther re­veals the true colors of the Philip­pines. The truth about the “Em­peror’s New Clothes” is out. Dur­ing the hear­ing, the Philip­pines made a big fuss about China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands and went out of its way to negate China’s ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty. This fully demon­strates that the South China Sea dis­pute be­tween China and the Philip­pines is, in essence, a dis­pute about ter­ri­tory. The only mo­tive and ob­jec­tive of the Philip­pines’ ini­ti­a­tion of the ar­bi­tra­tion is to deny China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands. But no mat­ter how this “ar­bi­tra­tion” farce con­tin­ues to play out, China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands brooks no de­nial.

In dis­re­gard of ba­sic his­tor­i­cal facts, the Philip­pines falsely claims that the Chi­nese peo­ple his­tor­i­cally have car­ried out few ac­tiv­i­ties and have had no pres­ence in the South China Sea, and China never has sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands. History, how­ever, brooks no de­nial. The South China Sea Is­lands have been China’s ter­ri­tory since an­cient times. Suc­ces­sive Chi­nese gov­ern­ments have ex­er­cised con­tin­u­ous ju­ris­dic­tion over the is­lands by means of ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol, mil­i­tary pa­trol, pro­duc­tion and busi­ness oper­a­tions, and mar­itime dis­as­ter re­lief, among oth­ers. Af­ter the Ja­panese war of ag­gres­sion against China, Ja­pan oc­cu­pied China’s Xisha and Nan­sha is­lands. Fol­low­ing its vic­tory in the war, China sent war­ships to re­cover the Xisha and Nan­sha is­lands, and gar­risoned troops and built var­i­ous mil­i­tary and civil­ian fa­cil­i­ties on the is­lands, thus re­sum­ing ex­er­cise of sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands de jure and de facto.

Dis­re­gard­ing its un­told suf­fer­ing and dev­as­ta­tion in­flicted by the Ja­panese mil­i­tarist ag­gres­sion dur­ing the Sec­ond WorldWar, the Philip­pines un­ex­pect­edly claimed the Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion and the Pots­dam Procla­ma­tion not legally bind­ing. As a mat­ter of fact, th­ese two doc­u­ments are im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional le­gal in­stru­ments pub­lished dur­ing the Se­condWorldWar, and form the bedrock of the post-war in­ter­na­tional or­der in East Asia. It is clearly stip­u­lated in the two doc­u­ments that Ja­pan shall re­turn the Chi­nese ter­ri­tory it had stolen from China. In the doc­u­ment on nor­mal­iza­tion of its diplo­matic ties with China, Ja­pan also made ex­plicit com­mit­ment to com­ply­ing with the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the Pots­dam Procla­ma­tion. Some mem­bers of the Philip­pine au­thor­i­ties, out of their smug cal­cu­la­tion of ter­ri­to­rial ex­pan­sion, have turned a blind eye to his­tor­i­cal facts and gone so far as to seek self­ish in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of the feel­ings of the Philip­pine peo­ple and the fruits of the­World Anti-Fas­cistWar. This only ex­poses the short­sight­ed­ness of th­ese Philip­pine politi­cians, who could have no bot­tom line at all even in pur­suit of just a few petty in­ter­ests.

The Philip­pines er­ro­neously claims that the Nan­sha Is­lands have been “terra nul­lius” since the end of the Se­condWorldWar, say­ing that the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed in 1951 only asked Ja­pan to give up its rights and claims on the Nan­sha Is­lands with­out clar­i­fy­ing that the is­lands should be re­turned to China. First of all, China does not rec­og­nize the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Se­condly, China has all along en­joyed sovereignty over the South China Sea Is­lands; it re­stored the ju­ris­dic­tion over the Nan­sha Is­lands af­ter the Se­condWorldWar through a se­ries of ac­tions, or in an­other word, the Nan­sha Is­lands have been re­turned to their orig­i­nal owner. In this sense, the Nan­sha Is­lands have al­ways been China’s ter­ri­tory. How can they

The au­thor is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Pol­i­tics at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai. be­come “terra nul­lius”? Fab­ri­ca­tion of the ex­cuse of “terra nul­lius” only lays bare the Philip­pines’ ter­ri­to­rial ex­pan­sion­ism and in­sa­tiable greed.

In essence, the South China Sea dis­pute be­tween China and the Philip­pines is a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute be­tween the two coun­tries caused by Philip­pines’ il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of some is­lands and reefs of China’s Nan­sha Is­lands af­ter the 1970s. China and the Philip­pines have on many oc­ca­sions reached con­sen­sus on re­solv­ing the rel­e­vant dis­pute through ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sul­ta­tions. To push ahead with the ar­bi­tra­tion, the Philip­pines broke its prom­ises, and dis­guised the dis­pute into one over the so-called “in­ter­pre­ta­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of the UNCLOS”. Once the dis­guise is re­moved, how­ever, peo­ple will see clearly the essence and root cause of the dis­pute. What does the dis­pute be­tween China and the Philip­pines over the Nan­sha is­lands and reefs have to do with the in­ter­pre­ta­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of the UNCLOS? The uni­lat­eral ini­ti­a­tion of the ar­bi­tra­tion is an out-and-out po­lit­i­cal provo­ca­tion un­der the cloak of law. The ul­te­rior mo­tive of the Philip­pines is to snatch China’s ter­ri­tory through a farce like this.

Nev­er­the­less, the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Chi­nese peo­ple to safe­guard its ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity is as firm as a rock. Only the Chi­nese peo­ple have the fi­nal say when it comes to China’s ter­ri­tory. Any at­tempt to negate China’s sovereignty, rights and in­ter­ests through a so-called “ar­bi­tra­tion award” will be noth­ing but wish­ful think­ing, just like flow­ers in a mir­ror and re­flec­tion of the moon in wa­ter. By go­ing back on its own words and con­fus­ing the con­cepts for the pur­pose of ter­ri­to­rial ex­pan­sion, the Philip­pines will only end up bring­ing dis­grace on it­self.

The au­thor is a re­searcher on in­ter­na­tional stud­ies.

CAI MENG / CHINA DAILY

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