Just recently 11 Chinese fishermen were arrested in a standoff in Palawan after they were caught illegally poaching over 500 marine turtles in the waters of the disputed West Philippine Sea. This event is without a doubt connected to the long-running territorial dispute between China and the Philippines over which country has legitimate claim over the Spratly Islands. The Spratlys region, an oil-rich chain of islands located in what was formerly known as the South China Sea (aka West Philippine Sea) is now being claimed by at least five sovereign states — China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Notwithstanding, the strongest of claims have always emanated and continue to emanate from China and the Philippines. The clash between the two countries has become so hopelessly bad that the United Nations has already become involved in the arbitration process.
PHILIPPINE VS. CHINA
After almost six decades of arguing and debating, the Philippines and China’s debate territorial quarrel seemed to have reached an impasse. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, realizing the futility of the talks with China, has finally decided to take things to the next level and left the arbitration to the hands of United Nations Convention of the Law and the Sea (UNCLOS). The claim of the Philippines is based on a number of supposed juridical criteria consistent with the provisions of the public international law, including cession, effective occupation, prescription, conquest, and accretion. The Chinese government, on the other hand, remains firm in its philosophy of not letting outside parties intervene in the territorial talks and continues to believe that the resolution can only be reached by continuing bilateral discussions between the countries involved.
NO RESOLUTION IN THE FUTURE
Given how complicated things have become and the fact that none of the claiming countries seem to have any intention abdicating their supposed rightful claim over the island, no resolution on this territorial drama is evident in the immediate future. This tale between China and the Philippines, not unlike the Biblical legend of David and Goliath is far from reaching any conclusion.
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