China Threatens To Leave UN Sea Convention If Court Invalidates Maritime Claims

Tyler Durden's picture

As an arbitration court in The Hague gets ready to make a decision regarding an ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Philippines, China has reportedly told some other Asian countries that it may leave the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea if it disagrees with the ruling.

The Philippines has been the most vocal critic of China's activities in the South China Sea, and filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013 in an attempt to invalidate China's "nine-dash line", China's version of what territory it owns.

Here is a map showing different maritime claims each country has, many overlap each other.

Zoomed version

China believes the worst outcome would be for the tribunal to rule that Beijing's claim over the sea has no international legal grounds, and invalidates its line.

From Kyodo News

China thinks the worst outcome would be for the tribunal, constituted by the 1982 convention, or UNCLOS, to rule that Beijing's claim of "historic rights" over the sea has no international legal grounds and invalidate its expansive line, according to the sources.


China has told some diplomats of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that it does not rule out withdrawing from the convention, often referred to as the constitution of the oceans, if that happens, the sources said.


Many experts believe that the ruling will not be favorable for China, which also has territorial disputes in the South China Sea with three other members of the 10-member association, namely Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The significance of the claim is understood when realizing what is at stake. The territory encompasses a key international shipping route for trade, is rich in fisheries (key for China, as protein is expensive for its citizens right now), and is believed to have large oil and gas deposits. Due to these reasons, it is not a surprise that China claims it won't honor any unfavorable decision, nor does it like the fact that outside parties (read: United States) intervene in the dispute.

China's massive reclamation in recent years of islands in the South China Sea -- a key international shipping route that is rich in fisheries resources and is also believed to hold large oil and gas deposits -- and its building of military facilities on them have generated widespread concerns, not only among the claimants, which also include Taiwan.


China, which ratified UNCLOS in 1996, has said it will neither accept nor honor the upcoming ruling by the tribunal. It has criticized the Philippines for filing the case "unilaterally" and breaking their past agreement of trying to settle territorial disputes through bilateral negotiations.


China has also asserted that the court has no jurisdiction over the case.


However, the Philippines' action has been backed by numerous countries including the United States and Japan, which regard it as a step toward resolving disagreements and easing tensions peacefully through international law.


While China has urged non-claimants not to meddle in territorial disputes in the South China Sea, those countries described by Beijing as "outsiders" have said they do not take sides in the feuds but have a say in opposing to any attempt to undermine rule-based order in the region.


They have put pressure on China to respect the forthcoming ruling if it wants to be a responsible major country in the international community.


China has accused the United States, not a signatory to UNCLOS, of having no right to talk about the arbitration case and argued that it is part of Washington's attempt with its allies in the region to contain Beijing's growing influence in the name of international law.


China's noncompliance with the decision is likely to damage its international image, but the tribunal has no enforcement mechanism.

* * *

If the tribunal has no enforcement mechanism, this begs the question will the United States step in and try to enforce any ruling that is handed down from the court. If so, already elevated tensions between the US and China could get exponentially worse.

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Parrotile's picture

Seems China's view is that of "Might is Right".


Wonder where they got that idea from . . . . . .

SHRAGS's picture

Well, they learn a few things about modern diplomacy from old Henry Kissinger, who wrote in his book, Diplomacy, page 65

"In matters of state," wrote Richelieu in his Political Testament, "he who has the power often has the right, and he who is weak can only with difficulty keep from being wrong in the majority of the world" --a maxim rarely contradicted in the intervening centuries"

beemasters's picture

I wonder why Japan seems to get so much more maritime claim than any of the neighbors (or all of them combined).

therealestg9's picture

Because they play for Team USA.

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) therealestg9 Jun 20, 2016 10:47 PM

Henry Kissinger diplomacy?


Talk real show about nothing until they can't stand it any more and agree to a deal.  I feel like agreeing to anything when ever I see him on television just so he will shut up.

EddieLomax's picture

It does bulge out into the Pacific much more than others do, but otherwise it at least looks sane rather than the Chinese 9 dash line that cuts through half a dozen countries territorial waters.

Japan though seems to be fairly okay, but the Philipines gets royally screwed by the Chinese formulae, the question is will they do anything about it, or will they just expect Uncle Sam to sort out all their problems.

If it is the latter then they might get a shock when Trump gets into office since a bill for any work will be posted.  That goes for most of the NATO alliance who are just hangers on.  The good news though is that when the locals have to start paying for their own security they will no doubt demand a say in how that security is deployed, I can't see the current sabre rattling against Russia for example continuing (and Trump has not shown any interest in it either).

TxExPat's picture

Islands.  Lots of islands with undisputied claims held for a very long time.  (Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the like).  You get the Island plus about 200 miles of sea around it.  Japan has held it's islands for centuries, and they are actual islands, not reefs dregged up from the Sea Floor. 

Dickweed Wang's picture

Kissinger is also the evil bastard that said this:

”If you control the food supply, you control the people”

Just one more "elite" that has an appointment with a hemp rope necktie . . .

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) Dickweed Wang Jun 20, 2016 10:49 PM

Ah, Kissinger = a Kim Jung (et al) deciple.

Zero Point's picture

If that cunt dies of natural causes, it'll be the greatest injustice in modern history.

Gonzogal's picture

Why should they be the only ones who obey this law?  The US CLEARLY does NOT!

Row Well Number 41's picture

Lets Have a War:

 There's so many of us
 There's so many of us
 There's so many
 There's so many of us
 There's so many of us
 There's so many [x2]

 Let's have a war
 So you can go and die!
 Let's have a war!
We could all use the money!
 Let's have a war!
 We need the space!
 Let's have a war!
 Clean out this place!

It already started in the city!
 Suburbia will be just as easy!

Let's have a war!
 Jack up the Dow Jones!
 Let's have a war!
 It can start in New Jersey!
 Let's have a war!
 Blame it on the middle-class!
 Let's have a war!
 We're like rats in a cage!

It already started in the city!
 Suburbia will be just as easy!

Let's have a war!
 Sell the rights to the networks!
 Let's have a war!
 General Motors get fat like last time!
 Let's have a war!
 Give gun/* to the queers!
 +*-et's have a war!
+The enemy's within!

It already started in the city!
 Suburbia will be just as easy!

Dickweed Wang's picture

War! huh . . .

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothin' . . . say it again . . .

War! huh . . .

What is it good for?


"War" by Edwin Starr (1970):

proV's picture

War reminds people temporary truce is not a synonym for everlasting peace. Some even say it is a gift from God to remind humans not to seek happiness in this shadowy transient world but move beyond it.

johngaltfla's picture

I listened to a podcast of the John Batchelor show with Gordon Chang and thougth the UN wiould rule against China. So let the fun begin boys and girls, even if the UN is full of whores and child rapists, at least we can demonstrate what a piece of garbage it is when it folds to the ChiCom demands.

knukles's picture

Please stop trying to frighten me.
I just want us to win all the gold medals in Rio.

Winston Churchill's picture

Only thing you get in Rio is an STD.

Dickweed Wang's picture

Only thing you get in Rio is an STD . . .


Or cholera, or dysentery, or malaria, or . . . .

Dickweed Wang's picture

. . . at least we can demonstrate what a piece of garbage it [the UN] is when it folds to the ChiCom demands.


You mean the UN wasn't proven to be a piece of garbage when they appointed Saudi Arabia as head of the "Human Rights Council" or IsreHell as the head of the "International Law Council"??  Go back to reading Ayn Rand o.k.?

Chuckster's picture

Instead of whinning about what China is doing.....why aren't we doing the same?

Gonzogal's picture

Because you already ARE....China is just following your example

gcjohns1971's picture

Let them have what they want.   ALL OF IT.  Concede the principle that manmade structures extend sovereign territory and China will have authored the principle by which she will be land-locked.

Between Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and India following China's rule, China will be surrounded and cut off from the open ocean.

consider me gone's picture

I say give it to them and then work out new shipping lanes that circumvent China and their trade. They need exports, let them convert to a consumer economy.

gcjohns1971's picture

Goes without saying.

The rule China wants only works for China so long as the rule is a privilege to China, and not a rule that everyone must follow.


The South China Sea is entirely surrounded by man made structures belonging to other nations.

And you can't have 'Sea Lanes' going through Sovereign waters.  The ONLY places you do see sea lanes in sovereign waters is in straits or canals...both of which are used to generate revenue in the form of fees for passage.

China is asking for her shippers to be taxed heavily by the other nations in Asia.

Either they didn't think it through, or they intend to have their way by force ... Permanently.

Either case would require the amount of oil under the Spratleys to be ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE larger than they are known to be. long as the oil there is not the largest deposit ever found anywhere on earth, their neighbors will bleed it out of them one way or another, whether they use it to forge swords or currency printing presses.   One way or another the turmoil will be a zero sum.

Shemp 4 Victory's picture

Goes without saying.

The rule America wants only works for America so long as the rule is a privilege to America, and not a rule that everyone must follow.

N'est-ce pas?

consider me gone's picture

Can you say "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." 

SweetDoug's picture

I am so goddamn tired of the Chinese.

Let's get'er on, and get'er on soon, so we can get it over with, so as not to let it become too big.

They need a punch in the face.

All bullies do.

It's the only thing bullies understand.


Consuelo's picture

What precisely, are you tired of...?


When/if we 'get'er on' as you suggest, do you plan on waking up the next morning to a normal routine of coffee and scrambled eggs - before or after your morning dump...?   Or do you think possibly that life as you know it might be disrupted, ~slightly~...?


Fucking Grow Up...



Yen Cross's picture


  Whatever   ~~~   fuk-u Hop Sing.  ```row row row da boat, U intelluctual property stealing slope heads.

Bloodstock's picture

Stealing? Yes but how much did Hillary sell to them?

TomGa's picture

"Joie's winning so I'm not playing any more!" Kinda like throwing the Monopoly board when you're losing.

Subverts the whole purpose of a court now, doesn't it? Even one with no teeth.

robnume's picture

And who owns the Philippines? We do Now they have an insane president who toes the neolibcon line. China doesn't stand a chance in this political climate. Why should they reconize a "body of law" that does not recognize them or their territorial rights? Guess they shouldn't have put their sea so close to our bases.

Peanut Butter Engineer's picture

Or have Uncle Sam enforce the ruling on the behaves of UNCLOS but isn't even a signatory of the pack.

DaBears's picture

"key for China, as protein is expensive for its citizens right now"

When it comes to printing unlimited Yuan, it's all fun and games until time to buy protein and rice.

See Venezuela for reference.

Dark Daze's picture
Dark Daze (not verified) DaBears Jun 20, 2016 7:58 PM

And you, an American, should talk?

Charming Anarchist's picture

And me, a Canuck, should shut up and listen!

Dragon HAwk's picture

In Chess you wipe out a lot of stuff, before somebody is left with a few Pieces...

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Dear China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Philipines,  

You may all claim anything you want to as your own, but you may have only that which you can defend against rivals.


Mother Nature

Dark Daze's picture
Dark Daze (not verified) Jun 20, 2016 7:59 PM

Well, I was told a few months ago how extensive US forces are said to be, and how you are equipped to fight a 3 front war while not even leaving your living rooms, so go ahea, create a world war from one end of Asia to the other side of Europe and see how it works out for ya.

August's picture

Right here, in America, we have The Avengers.

Yen Cross's picture

  Chinks-b-us, "r" working the hedge tonight.

 Did everyone catch the $usd selling during the Tokyo fix?

Kaeako's picture

Seems like dropping a massive fish into the pond might have the unintended(?) consequence of upending the "rules-based" world order Britain and then the United States so painstakingly built over the last 200 years. Should these international bodies become obsolete it's dog eat dog again, and countries like the United States will indeed pull back the curtains to reveal the brick wall - just like they did in WW2...

BarkingCat's picture

It is like that now. Only those with potent military or very good allies of such nation get the elusion of justice .

Small and defenseless get run over .

Charming Anarchist's picture

Why would the Chinese respond to any of this?

Bloodstock's picture

Fuck it all, think I'll put on some Pink Floyd and add to my distractions.

Dickweed Wang's picture

Maybe it's time China starts handling its southern neighbors just like the USA has handled its Latin American neighbors . . . if China doesn't like a position taken by one of those governments they can just go in and foment a coup to install a more "China friendly" government.  If that doesn't work they can always go to "Plan B" and just assassinate the leader there and install someone who is willing to do China's bidding.  Hey, its worked for the USA . . .

short screwed's picture

I noticed no one else making claims for the waters off of Fukushima.

Phillyguy's picture

The Philippines and Japan (still occupied by US troops 70 years after WWII) are vassal states/stooges of the US and take their marching orders from Washington. Unfortunately, both countries will be incinerated in a war with China. At the end of WWII, the US dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan. Did Japan learn anything from this experience? Apparently not.

gcjohns1971's picture

The US closed Subic Bay in the 1970s, genius.