Hague Ruling: China Has No Basis For Its Expansive Claims To The China Sea

5784b53bc3618806448b4594The growing tensions in the South China Sea just got more tense. A tribunal in the Hague has ruled that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. With a huge investment in the construction of artificial islands, China has responded by simply dismissing the arbitration ruling on international law. China boycotted the proceedings before the five-member panel from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. Many felt that the boycott reflected the weakness of the Chinese claims, which were unanimously rejected by the panel. Immediately after the ruling, China issued a statement that said that China “solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it.”

The ruling supports countries like Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines which have long objected to the Chinese construction and claims. It is also a vindication of the position of the Obama Administration that has continued to challenge China in the area.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the tribunal’s decision is “final and legally binding” and that the two sides should comply with it. He said in a statement that “Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.”

Yet, the other countries in the area now have legal support for their continued confrontations with China over the area. Notably, the panel specifically denounced China for building a large artificial island on Mischief Reef and noted that the construction caused “permanent irreparable harm” to the coral reef ecosystem and permanently destroyed natural conditions.

The question is now how far China will go in the ongoing confrontations without the benefit of a viable legal claim. Notably, China is accused of sinking a Filipino fishing boat as this ruling was released in the Hague.

25 thoughts on “Hague Ruling: China Has No Basis For Its Expansive Claims To The China Sea”

  1. China will nibble along until it demands that ships and planes traversing the China Sea contact China for anything from coordination to permission. That will be the first shot fired across the international bow. The French are hinting at sending ships through the area. The next President of the US, if balls are included, might organize naval exercises comprising perhaps a half dozen nuclear aircraft carriers from the US, France, India, Great Britain, along with ships from other countries that use the passage. These exercises would include an air faction. This would be the strongest return shot across the Chinese bow. The sooner it is done the better as possession being 9/10ths of the law typically grows firmer with time. The world has enough cheap junk from China as it is. We could easily pay a couple hundred more dollars for stuff built at home.

  2. Hell Reagan and Bush refused to follow US law when they armed the Contras illegally and waged war on Nicaragua. Then they violated the World Court opinion and ruling that the US was illegally waging war against Nicaragua. So the Chinese have only to remind Prof Turley and the US about THEIR spitting in the face of international law and SIGNED treaties. Once again, the US word on a treaty is worthless. Of course, Native Americans know this all too well.

    1. randyjet – Indians have not been good at keeping treaties either, ask Geronimo.

  3. Yep, every time Obama, Kerry–and, well… Hillary try to stand up and take the high road, they have a Ren & Stimpy feel. I don’t have the facility to explain much they have destroyed our legal, moral, and reasonable standing. And yeah, don’t like China buying our country out from under us? Stop buying their stuff.

  4. Boycott all chinese products. Do not let the cafeteria at Oberlin serve chinese food.

  5. Since the US has now adopted a posture of only obeying international law when it suits our purpose, it will be impossible for our leaders to make any sort of rule of law argument or moral argument about observing the rule of law. Once a big, powerful nation declares the rules are for everyone else in one area (like torture and war crimes) no other big, powerful nation will feel any obligation to observe such laws when it doesn’t suit their purpose.

  6. Putin has shown remarkable restraint for having 30k troops and the most advanced weapons systems sitting on their border. Don’t think that would go over well if Russian or Chinese troops were in Tijuana. We were supposed to go home at the end of cold war like they did. We kept moving east. More money to made by stirring the pot. With Russia’s rapidly declining population, they have to make a deal with Beijing, too. There are a lot of resources for China just to their north. Putin’s problem, and China’s arrogance is that they don’t want to sell their oil and goods in dollars. Ask Saddam how well that works.

  7. Putin relieved the command of Baltic Sea officers because they would not buzz US ships like he ordered. He is our generation’s Stalin.

  8. Olly, That was my point. Obama will ignore like he does terrorism. He will focus on what’s really important, disbanding the 2nd Amendment and climate change.

  9. Olly, I hadn’t seen before now the Frederic Bastiat quote you posted. Thanks for it.

    “Law made by only ‘one class of [people]’ is harmful only when there is more than one class of people.” – Steve Groen

  10. “Property and Plunder

    Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

    But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

    Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain — and since labor is pain in itself — it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

    When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.

    It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.

    But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws.

    This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.” Frederic Bastiat

  11. So let’s see them enforce it. Next we’ll see two US Navy patrol boats seized by the Chinese and another $100 billion ransom paid to get them back.

    Forget about Obama going nose-to-nose with China or Russia. Expect him to become even more aggressive against us in the final months of his presidency.

  12. Look for China and Russia to become very aggressive in the final months of our lame duck, feckless President. They are both like predators that see a weak prey.

  13. I agree we are a paper tiger, and to be honest, we can’t afford to confront the Chinese over that situation. It’s their problem. Clinton and Bush helped make them the looming monster they are, and we better find some people that can craft a real foreign policy, and quick. All these cold wars we’re starting (thanks for Ukraine, Hillary), plus the ongoing ridiculous ME situation is something we can’t keep financing with currency tricks. And who thought the Chinese would ever honor a ruling out of the Hague anyway–we surely do not.

  14. ‘US Supreme Court rejects international law, ruling against Mexicans on death row
    By Bill Van Auken
    26 March 2008
    In an extraordinary ruling that epitomizes the lawlessness and arrogance of Washington’s conduct on the world stage, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal on behalf of 51 Mexican nationals, most of them condemned to death, finding that American state courts are not bound by international law.
    In its 6-3 ruling, which clears the way for dozens of executions, the Court’s majority decided that the Texas state courts do not have to comply with a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and that the US president does not have the authority to order them to do so.
    Mexico, which does not have a death penalty, brought the case to the international court in 2003, citing the Vienna Convention, which affirms the right of foreign nationals arrested in any country to obtain assistance from their government’s consulates and requires the authorities to inform them of this right.’


    ‘U.S. Supreme Court vs. The World
    By Tony Mauro
    The rumors sweep through Washington, D.C., like summer storms. One day, Chief Justice William Rehnquist is about to resign. The next day, not. The day after that, one or more justices will join him in leaving the bench. The truth is, no one can predict what will happen.
    Rehnquist, who is fighting thyroid cancer, is keeping his plans to himself, if he has any. He has shown remarkable stamina and determination in keeping up with his work at the court, and it would surprise no one if he defied all the experts and stayed on for months or longer.

    So here is a safer prediction: When and if a new justice is nominated, he or she will be grilled about an issue you have probably not heard much about: whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to use international or foreign law as a resource in deciding U.S. cases.

    Before your eyes glaze over or wander to a nearby cartoon, let me add: This issue is a big deal and has already played a significant role in the court’s decision-making in recent years.

    In landmark rulings upholding affirmative action, supporting gay rights and, most recently, striking down the death penalty for juvenile offenders, justices have invoked the practices of foreign nations and the rulings of international courts to support their conclusions. In the March 1 ruling Roper v. Simmons, Justice Anthony Kennedy took note of the “stark reality” that the United States was the only nation in the world that still sanctioned the execution of those who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes.

    That fact was far from the only reason Kennedy and four other justices found such executions unconstitutional. But to hear conservatives’ violent reaction to the decision, you would think that it was the only justification, and that Kennedy had suddenly ceded the authority of the Supreme Court to the laws of Klingon, or Mars.

    The uproar

    In a tone of incredulity, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said in April, “We’ve got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law — not the Constitution of the United States.” Congressional Republicans have introduced a resolution to disapprove of the practice. Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading opponent of the trend, said recently that the framers of the Constitution “would be appalled” to see the Supreme Court cite the laws of nations they were trying to distance themselves from. As the issue gains traction, the chances improve that Scalia or Clarence Thomas, who also opposes using foreign sources, will be nominated as chief justice. Kennedy can kiss his chances goodbye.

    Why all the fuss over a seemingly technical point of law? This debate is driven by outcomes. In each of the recent cases in which invoking foreign law has sparked controversy, the decisions have been progressive or liberal. But a lot of international law is not so progressive. On issues ranging from freedom of speech to abortion, much of the world is far to the right of U.S. law. It will be interesting to see whether conservatives get so upset when cases come along in which international doctrines would help their side.’


    In the end it comes down to us and them. China is too big to do other than rant, as is the US. Case in point, the Caribbean. The question is does the US and The World Court have the balls to enforce something so universal as the 200 mile out from a country control zones. Canada, the US, Russia, and even China have adhered to the 200 mile zone and negotiated from that as a beginning. Of course China has the mumbo jumbo of historical precedent and possession is 9/10ths of the law, now. They have the historical precedent of the actions of colonial powers going back centuries: Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, and the US of A.

  15. Don’t expect the Chinese to follow the ruling. Obama is too weak to go nose to nose with them.

  16. Oh, somehow that island that they are building went radioactive! Must be some spill off a ship going by that was carrying old atomic refuse. Too bad, so sad, your dad.
    That said, quit buying chinese underwear.

  17. Why does this surprise anyone? The Chinese have recently killed more of their own people harvesting organs than the Japanese that they hate did throughout history…the Chinese are godless animals pretending to be humans. They have no respect for life whatsoever…that is except their own.

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