• Mobile version
  • Follow us on Wechat
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • App

US regular intervention is the decisive factor leading to chaos of the South China Sea

The Jinqing Island of Yongle Islands, located in the Xisha Islands, in south China's Hainan Province, April 23, 2017. | Xinhua Photo

In a statement issued by the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 15, the country has submitted a case regarding the outer limits of the continental shelf in the South China Sea to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

The move seeks to establish exclusive rights to exploit natural resources in the waters in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention”).  

Given the incident, in an exclusive of GDToday, Dr. Bao Yinan, associate research fellow at Huayang Research Center for Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance, noted that the Philippines' move was more about form than substance.

He further pointed out that given the unabated turbulence in the South China Sea, regular intervention of the United States is the decisive factor leading to chaos in the waters.

Several Philippine ships gather illegally and conduct activities irrelevant to legitimate fishing in the surrounding waters of Huangyan Dao, May 16, 2024. | Xinhua Photo

The Philippines' move is more about form than substance

“The Philippines is aware that the CLCS currently has lots of cases to address, reportedly near 100. It is estimated that it will take several years or even decades to resolve them. This is a technical issue involving many parameters,” Bao noted.  

In order to submit the application, the Philippines spent 15 years investigating. However, these so-called evidence may be objected by other neighboring countries. During the negotiation of the Convention in the 1970s, it was investigated whether littoral states of the South China Sea region might be entitled to an extended continental shelf. According to relevant calculations, only Indonesia then was eligible to apply for an outer continental shelf. 

At least from the level of science and technology at that moment, other countries may not have reached the standards of the Convention. The CLCS was established as a technical advisory body to review the outer limits of continental shelf applications submitted by various countries. Coastal states scramble to propose extended continental shelf claims at present. Mineral resources are their main consideration. All states want to demarcate a portion of the international seabed area to their own continental shelf.

The inefficiency of the CLCS is due to intricate technical issues, and touches on the actual maritime rights and interests of various countries. The commission, therefore, has always been quite prudent, especially for any applications involving territorial sovereignty or maritime delimitation disputes.

The CLCS as an advisory committee does not have any judicial functions like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). Nonetheless, the advisory opinion of the CLCS is final and ought to be binding according to its rules of procedure.

For example, if state A and state B have a maritime boundary dispute, the resolution made by the CLCS will be generally used as a piece of critical reference by the ICJ and ITLOS.

The Kantan No.3 offshore oil platform and its supply ship in the northern waters of the South China Sea, on July 29, 2020. | Xinhua Photo  

US regular intervention is the decisive factor leading to chaos of the South China Sea

In recent years, a series of events have precipitated an international dispute in the South China Sea. From a macro perspective, Dr. Bao pointed out that the regular intervention of the US is the decisive factor leading to the chaos of the waters.

“China has always proposed to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation. Starting from 2010 or so till now, it has been in ebbs and flows. The regular intervention of the United States, as a country outside the South China Sea, is a decisive factor leading to chaos in the region,” noted Bao. 

After Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was formulated by China and ASEAN countries in 2002, the South China Sea has been stable and basically controllable, without too many disputes.

However, the US continues to stir up trouble. After 2010, the Obama administration proclaimed the high-profile “Pivot to Asia”. Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also laid out in public that the country has significant interests in the South China Sea and cannot leave the South China Sea in a vacuum.

Huangyan Dao Incident in 2012 and the so-called South China Sea Arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines in 2013 were all manipulated by the US behind the scenes.

US high-profile intervention in South China Sea affairs makes neighboring countries feel that they have a patron, that even if there are problems, the United States will give a hand. Therefore, they can provoke China 's rights and interests in the South China Sea without fear. After the South China Sea Arbitration ruling in July 2016, the Philippines and other coastal states in the South China Sea region took the ruling as a sword of justice, regarding themselves as occupying the vantage point of morality and public opinion.

The scenery of Huangyan Dao in the South China Sea, April 9, 2024. | Xinhua Photo

As for the Philippines, the South China Sea was relatively stable during the Duterte administration, as China and the Philippines cooperated in combating piracy and smuggling, as well as oil and gas development. The new Marcos administration discarded the diplomatic policy of its predecessor Duterte that was relatively friendly to China, and turned to the US. 

July 12th this year marks the 8th anniversary of the South China Sea Arbitration Award. Dr. Bao warned that it is possible that the Philippines will make some new moves matching the anniversary, such as a high-profile statement requiring China to implement and abide by the Award on or around that date.  

Regarding the possible measures of the Philippines, Dr. Bao proposed that relevant parties should remain vigilant. China's Coast Guard, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and even international law academia should prepare in time. They should fully consider the countermeasures when the Philippines initiates arbitration. 

Reporter: Zhang Ruijun

Editor: Zhao Yang, Stephen Yuan, Abby Chen

Tags :
Related News