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Ten Questions Regarding Huangyan Island(8)

2012-06-12 13:18    comment

8. Why do you think the Philippines violates international law by basing its territorial claim on the geographic proximity?

The Philippines claims sovereignty over Huangyan Island because it is closest to the Philippines. According to international judicial practice and international case law, the so-called "geographic proximity" does not constitute a basis for one country to occupy the territory of another country. In today's world, many countries have remote off-shore territories, which are much closer to other countries than to their own. There are numerous cases in the world in which countries have owned offshore territories or islands that are far away from their own countries and closer to their neighboring  countries. Therefore, geographic proximity cannot change the sovereignty of these territories or islands.


9. Why do you say that the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs)-based claim of sovereignty over Huangyan Island represents a misinterpretation and abuse of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?

The Philippines claims that since Huangyan Island is about 125 nautical miles away from its Luzon Island, thus within its EEZs, as the UNCLOS provides for 200 nautical miles EEZs, the Philippines has the sovereignty over Huangyan Island. Clearly, the Philippines here has misinterpreted and misapplied UNCLOS on the basis of its own interests, which is contrary to international law and to UNCLOS. It has been an established basic principle of international law that "the land dominates the sea". Coastal states derive their sovereign rights and jurisdiction over EEZs from their territorial sovereignty. UNCLOS does not have any provision to change a country's sovereignty over territorial land, let alone empowering any nation to extend its EEZs to include territories of other countries. Hence, UNCLOS can not serve as a basis for a country to claim sovereignty over China's Huangyan Island. In this context, ignoring the fact Huangyan Island has always belonged to China, the Philippines' EEZs-based territorial claim to the detriment of China's territorial sovereignty is not only a misinterpretation and abuse of UNCLOS, but also represents a violation of the fundamental principle of the inviolability of territorial sovereignty enshrined in the UN Charter. 


10. What actually happened on Huangyan Island in April 2012?

When 12 fishing boats from Hainan, China were conducting normal operations in the Huangyan Island lagoon on the morning of April 10, the Philippine Navy warship Gregorio del Pilar blocked the  entrance to the lagoon. The Philippine armed personnel boarded  four Chinese fishing boats, questioned the Chinese fishermen, searched the boats and took photos. They were rude and rough, severely violated China's territorial sovereignty and the human rights of Chinese fishermen. On the afternoon of 10 April, upon learning of the incident, the Chinese marine surveillance vessels No.84 and No.75, both performing routine patrol duty nearby,  immediately headed to the Island to protect the safety of the Chinese fishermen. On the afternoon of 11 April, the Chinese fishery administration boat No.303 also arrived on the site and instructed the Chinese fishing boats and fishermen to evacuate safely and get rid of the Philippine intimidation. Afterwards, an archaeological ship of the Philippines stayed in the lagoon for illegal operation for a long time, and refused to leave the site until 18 April after China's repeated representations. 

After the occurrence of Huangyan Island Incident, China has consistently adhered to its position of solving the issue through diplomatic consultation. However, the Philippines kept escalating the situation, made erroneous remarks to mislead the public at home and abroad and whip up hostile sentiments. All the above actions have severely damaged the bilateral relations. To prevent further provocation by the Philippines, the Chinese public service ships have continued to keep close watch over Huangyan Island waters, provide administrative and other service to Chinese fishing boats in accordance with China's laws, so as to ensure Chinese fishermen a good environment for operations in their traditional fishing grounds.


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