Newspaper article International New York Times

Philippines Wins Ruling in Dispute with China ; A Court at the Hague Sides with Manila on Contested Naval Areas

Newspaper article International New York Times

Philippines Wins Ruling in Dispute with China ; A Court at the Hague Sides with Manila on Contested Naval Areas

Article excerpt

The Philippines has won an important ruling in its case against China over disputed parts of the South China Sea.

The Philippines has won an important ruling in its case against China over disputed parts of the South China Sea, with an arbitration court in the Netherlands saying that it has jurisdiction in the case and will hold hearings.

The Philippines welcomed the decision Friday and said it was prepared to argue the merits of its case before the tribunal. "Our people can be assured that those representing our country have been continuously preparing for this," said Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines.

China's Foreign Ministry said the country would not accept any ruling from the court, a standard statement from the ministry on the case. It accused the Philippines of "a political provocation under the cloak of law."

The case is being closely watched by the United States and other Asian nations that are claimants in the South China Sea, where China asserts sovereignty over islands and reefs within about 90 percent of the waterway.

The Philippines, represented by an American lawyer, Paul Reichler, of the Washington law firm Foley Hoag, contends that it has the right to exploit oil and gas in waters in a 200-nautical- mile exclusive economic zone from territory that it claims in the South China Sea.

The Hague court rejected Beijing's claims that the disputes in the South China Sea were about its territorial sovereignty, which China says are based on historical rights and are indisputable.

Mr. Reichler made his arguments in July before the court, which was established in 1899 to encourage the peaceful resolution of international disputes. There had been considerable speculation about whether the court would accept the case, given China's absence from the proceedings.

The court ruled Thursday that it had the authority to hear the Philippines' submissions, which are based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a set of laws that the United States has not signed but uses as the basis of its policies in the heated contest with China over the South China Sea.

This past week, an American destroyer, the Lassen, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, a reef in the Spratly archipelago near the Philippines that China has built into an island. …

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