up date: 11/11/2017
A CHALLENGE AS AN AFTER THOUGHT
We ran the chart below with one of our many reports of Chinese misbehavior among the islands that
belong to her neighbors. In the case of the Philippines the "dispute" is over the Spratly Islands. On the chart the Spratlys are enclosed by a box drawn with straight lines. Inside the box are overlapping magenta lines showing the over lapping claims of the Philippines and Malaysia. Some of the islands are located so close to the Philippine main island of Palawan as to be reachable by outrigger canoe from the beach. The most distant are still about 60 miles inside the Philippines internationally recognized Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). You will note that in the southeast corner there are overlapping claims between Malaysia and the Philippines. This dispute is legitimate, a recognized instance under the United Nations's International Law of the Sea Conference (UNCLOS) where EEZ boundaries have to be negotiated or arbitrated. Without China clouding the issue the Philippines and Malaysia probably could have opened up a boundary survey and settlement board, agreed to joint oil exploration licensing until the boundary was settled and already opened up the area to oil exploration. They could have been exporting oil to oil hungry China even as we write this. Unfortunately those widely spaced green lines enclose China's claim of her territorial sea. At this point you have to scroll up to see China which is about 930 miles away from the Spratlys closest to the Philippines. Now given that the UNCLOS limits territorial sea claims to 12 miles seaward of a base line established along the adjacent coastal state's mainland how does China legally justify a territorial sea of about 930 miles seaward from their baseline and running within not only the EEZs, but here and there even the territorial seas of neighbors? Given a general limit of 200 miles from base line under UNCLOS for how does China justify legally claiming the entire EEZ of some neighboring states? There is a comment section below this post. Anyone who thinks they can make a decent case under international law for Chinese control of the Spratlys is free to use the comments section below this post to do so. Just keep in mind two points; you are making your case on the same page with a map that shows the geographic location of the Spratlys and a brief explanation of the current rule of international law. Second our legal scholars reserve the right to respond to any such argument. Your jury may number about 40,000. We'll take a poll afterwards and report the results of this informal world "moot court."
We believe that China's only real argument is that might makes right and they have the most naval might in the region. So does the United States in its region but the United States has never claimed the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean as an "American Lake". We've been running this challenge since 2013 and no one has used the "comments section" to argue that the Chinese claim has any legitimate standing under international law, not even a Chinese respondent.