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PH submits formal claim on extended WPS shelf to UN - Full details from the 2016 Arbitration Award



  • According to Beijing, "The U.N. Commission will not consider or rule on it."


  • The South China Sea plays an important role on security throughout East Asia as the Northeast Asia is heavily dependent on the flow of oil and trade through these sea lanes, including more than 80 percent of the crude oil that reaches Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.


  • China claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracelsus island groups and other areas within its ambiguous "nine-dash line," which demarcates a maritime area of nearly two million square kilometers, or more than one-fifth of China's land territory. However, these claims are contested by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.


  • In 2016, the International Tribunal for Maritime Law established under the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled that any of China's claims to "historic rights" in the South China Sea, within the area depicted as the "nine-dash line," could not exceed its maritime rights as expressly provided for in the Convention itself. Under the terms of the Convention, however, the ruling is final and binding. Despite this, Beijing continues to illegitimately own the disputed islets, which it has subsequently also militarized. Despite being legally bound to abide by the Tribunal's ruling (which has no enforcement power) by virtue of its ratification of UNCLOS, Beijing has always considered the arbitration measure "nothing more than a piece of paper," a "farce" with no "binding force."


  • A glimpse of incidents in recent months.


  • Beijing's attitude in handling territorial and maritime disputes is marked by a general and open disregard for the most basic rules, whether international or regional. China resorts to armed conflict tactics and calibrates its coercive activities below the threshold of provoking an armed conflict. These practices are particularly evident in the pursuit of territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, along the border with India and Bhutan.



The Philippines has formally asked the United Nations (UN) to register its extended continental shelf (ECS) in the Western Palawan region in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Saturday.


The submission of information at the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) was made through the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York on June 14 (New York time).


Philippine President Marcos

This is the second time the Philippines has registered an ECS entitlement. In 2012, the CLCS validated its partial submission on the Philippine Rise, resulting in an additional 135,506 square kilometers of seabed area for the country.


In a statement, DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Marshall Louis Alferez said this submission is a declaration not only of the Philippines’ maritime entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) but also of Manila’s commitment to the responsible application of its processes.


This would also help secure the Philippines’ sovereign rights and maritime jurisdictions in the West Philippine Sea, Alferez said, noting that the 2016 Arbitral Ruling confirmed the country’s maritime entitlements and rejected those that exceeded geographic and substantive limits under UNCLOS.

“Incidents in the waters tend to overshadow the importance of what lies beneath,” he said.

“The seabed and the subsoil extending from our archipelago up to the maximum extent allowed by UNCLOS hold significant potential resources that will benefit our nation and our people for generations to come. Today, we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our ECS entitlement.”


Alferez, meanwhile, clarified that the submission does not prejudice discussions with relevant coastal States that may have legitimate ECS claims measured from their respective lawful baselines under UNCLOS.


“We consider our submission as a step in discussing delimitation matters and other forms of cooperation moving forward. What is important is the Philippines puts on record the maximum extent of our entitlement,” he said.


Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN in New York Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo has also expressed optimism this submission would reinvigorate the efforts of States “to demonstrate their readiness to pursue UNCLOS processes in the determination of maritime entitlements and promote a rules-based international order.”


In its Philippine Rise submission in 2009, the country stated that it reserved the right to make submissions in other areas in the future.


Under Article 76 of the UNCLOS, a coastal State such as the Philippines is entitled to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf comprising the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas extending beyond 200 nautical miles (NM) but not to exceed 350 NM from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.


The National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA) led the Extended Continental Shelf Technical Working Group (ECS-TWG) that worked on the submission for more than a decade and a half.


NAMRIA Administrator Peter Tiangco welcomed the official ECS submission and thanked the ECS-TWG for their work in gathering and processing data on geodetic and hydrographic information, and geophysical and geological information to substantiate the submission.


The first submission was also undertaken by the ECS-TWG, an inter-agency body composed of technical, legal, diplomatic, political, and law enforcement experts from several Philippine offices and agencies, among them NAMRIA, DFA, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, National Security Council, Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau, University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, UP National Institute of Geological Sciences, the former National Coast Watch Council Secretariat, Department of National Defense, Office of the Solicitor General, and Philippine Coast Guard.


China's response


Lin Jian said that China has taken note of the relevant movements and is acquiring specific information.



"The U.N. Commission will not consider or rule on it."

"It should be noted that China and the Philippines have territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes in the South China Sea. The Philippines' unilateral submission of a case concerning the delimitation of the outer continental shelf in the South China Sea violates China's sovereign rights and jurisdiction, international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and relevant provisions of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. In accordance with the Commission's Rules of Procedure on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the Commission will not consider or rule on the request submitted by the Philippines if it concerns disputed maritime areas." he said.


A timeline of clashes between China and the Philippines in South China Sea


China has been at odds with many other countries in the Asia-Pacific for years over its sweeping maritime claims, including almost all of the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich waterway around which Beijing has drawn a 10-dash-line on official maps to delineate what it says is its territory.


Beijing's attitude in handling territorial and maritime disputes is marked by a general and open disregard for the most basic rules, whether international or regional. China resorts to armed conflict tactics and calibrates its coercive activities below the threshold of provoking an armed conflict. These practices are particularly evident in the pursuit of territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, along the border with India and Bhutan.

Beijing is in the midst of a massive military expansion and has become increasingly assertive in pursuing its claims, giving rise to more frequent direct confrontations, primarily with the Philippines, though it is also involved in longtime territorial disputes with Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.


A 2016 arbitration ruling by a United Nations tribunal invalidated Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, but China did not participate in the proceedings and rejected the ruling.


At stake are fishing rights, access to undersea oil reserves and other natural resources, as well as the possibility of establishing military outposts.


The U.S., a treaty partner with the Philippines, has raised concerns about China's actions and President Joe Biden has pledged "ironclad" support for Manila. That's sparked fears that if an incident escalates, it could spark a wider conflict.


In the latest incident, a Chinese vessel and a Philippine supply ship collided near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday. China’s coast guard said a Philippine supply ship entered waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands that’s part of territory claimed by several nations. The Philippine military called the Chinese coast guard’s report "deceptive and misleading."


Here's a look at some other incidents and developments in recent months:

  • June 4: Philippine officials say the Chinese coast guard seized food dropped for Filipino naval personnel on an outpost on Second Thomas Shoal. Philippine Gen. Romeo Brawner says the Chinese may have suspected the packages contained construction materials intended to reinforce the rusty Philippine navy ship deliberately run aground at Second Thomas Shoal to serve as a Philippine outpost.

  • May 16: About 100 Filipino activists on wooden boats change plans to distribute food to Filipinos based on the Second Thomas Shoal after being shadowed by Chinese coast guard ships through the night. Instead, they distribute food packs and fuel southeast of the disputed territory.

  • April 30: Chinese coast guard ships fire water cannons at two Philippine patrol vessels near the Scarborough Shoal, another hotly disputed area where tensions have flared on and off. Philippine officials say water cannons could damage their ships’ engines, or even capsize the smaller vessels. China called its move a "necessary measure," accusing the Philippines of violating China’s sovereignty. China also re-installed a floating barrier across the entrance to the shoal’s vast fishing lagoon.

  • April 23: A Chinese coast guard ship blocks a Philippine patrol vessel near Second Thomas Shoal, causing a near-collision. Before the incident, a Chinese naval vessel had shadowed two Philippine patrol boats as they cruised near Subi, one of seven barren reefs in the Spratly Islands that China has transformed in the last decade into a missile-protected island military outpost. Subi is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

  • March 23: Chinese coast guard hits Philippine supply boat with water cannons near Second Thomas Shoal, injuring crew members and damaging the vessel, Philippine officials say. China says the Philippines intruded into its territorial waters despite repeated warnings.

  • March 5: Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels are involved in a minor collision off the Second Thomas Shoal, and four Filipino crew members are injured when China blasts a supply boat with water cannons, shattering its windshield. China's coast guard says the Philippine ships were illegally intruding in the area’s waters and accused one of them of ramming a Chinese vessel.

  • Jan. 12: Filipino fishing boat captain says Chinese coast guard drives him away from Scarborough Shoal, forces him to dump his catch into the sea.

  • Dec. 9, 2023: The Chinese coast guard surrounds a supply ship, blasts it with a water cannon in the area around Second Thomas Shoal. The head of the Philippine military, who was aboard the supply boat, says they were also "bumped" by a Chinese ship.

  • Nov. 10, 2023: China blasts Philippine supply ship with water cannon near Second Thomas Shoal; China says it acted appropriately under maritime law to defend its territory.

  • Oct. 22, 2023: A Chinese coast guard ship and accompanying vessel ram Philippine coast guard ship and a military-run supply boat near the Second Thomas Shoal. Chinese coast guard says the Philippine vessels "trespassed" into what it said were Chinese waters.

  • Sept. 26, 2023: The Philippine coast guard says it removed a floating barrier from blocking the entrance to the lagoon at the Scarborough Shoal, put in place by China to prevent Filipino fishing boats from entering. China would later replace the barrier.



The South China Sea plays an important role on security throughout East Asia as the Northeast Asia is heavily dependent on the flow of oil and trade through these sea lanes, including more than 80 percent of the crude oil that reaches Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.


China claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracelsus island groups and other areas within its ambiguous "nine-dash line," which demarcates a maritime area of nearly two million square kilometers, or more than one-fifth of China's land territory. However, these claims are contested by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.


In 2009, Beijing protested extended claims over the continental shelf in the South China Sea made by Malaysia and Vietnam in two verbal notes to the United Nations (UN). In its responses, China asserted that it had "indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and adjacent waters, enjoying sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters as well as seabed and subsoil," within the "nine-dash line."


In 2016, the International Tribunal for Maritime Law established under the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled that any of China's claims to "historic rights" in the South China Sea, within the area depicted as the "nine-dash line," could not exceed its maritime rights as expressly provided for in the Convention itself.


The PRC did not take part in the arbitration and its representatives immediately expressed public opposition to the ruling.


Under the terms of the Convention, however, the ruling is final and binding. Despite this, Beijing continues to illegitimately own the disputed islets, which it has subsequently also militarized.


Despite being legally bound to abide by the Tribunal's ruling (which has no enforcement power) by virtue of its ratification of UNCLOS, Beijing has always considered the arbitration measure "nothing more than a piece of paper," a "farce" with no "binding force." In open defiance of the rules, Beijing has never recognized the authority of the arbitration tribunal, has not abided by the ruling, and has not deviated from the assertive position it has held since 2013.

In recent years, it has also built military outposts on artificial islands, reefs and areas it claims. Despite the arbitration decision, it continues to use coercive tactics, including the use of PLA military and paramilitary vessels, to assert its claims and promote its interests, in ways calculated to stay below the threshold of provoking a conflict.









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