II. Origin of the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines
in the South China Sea
55. The core of the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lies in the territorial issues caused by the Philippines' invasion and illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao. In addition, with the development of the international law of the sea, a maritime delimitation dispute also arose between the two states regarding certain sea areas of the South China Sea.
i. The Philippines' invasion and illegal occupation caused disputes with China over some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao
56. The territory of the Philippines is defined by a series of international treaties, including the 1898 Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain (the Treaty of Paris), the 1900 Treaty between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain for Cession of Outlying Islands of the Philippines (the Treaty of Washington), and the 1930 Convention between His Majesty in Respect of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States regarding the Boundary between the State of North Borneo and the Philippine Archipelago.
57. The Philippines' territory so defined has nothing to do with China's Nanhai Zhudao.
58. In the 1950s, the Philippines attempted to take moves on China's Nansha Qundao but eventually stopped because of China's firm opposition. In May 1956, Tomás Cloma, a Filipino, organized a private expedition to some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao and unlawfully named them "Freedomland". Afterwards, Philippine Vice President and Foreign Minister Carlos Garcia expressed support for Cloma's activities. In response, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a stern statement on 29 May, pointing out that Nansha Qundao "has always been a part of China's territory. The People's Republic of China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands [...] and will never tolerate the infringement of its sovereignty by any country with any means and under any excuse." At the same time, China's Taiwan authorities sent troops to patrol Nansha Qundao and resumed stationing troops on Taiping Dao. Afterward, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that the government of the Philippines did not know about Cloma's activities or give him the consent before he took his moves.
59. Starting in the 1970s, the Philippines invaded and illegally occupied by force some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao and raised illegal territorial claims. The Philippines invaded and illegally occupied Mahuan Dao and Feixin Dao in August and September 1970, Nanyao Dao and Zhongye Dao in April 1971, Xiyue Dao and Beizi Dao in July 1971, Shuanghuang Shazhou in March 1978 and Siling Jiao in July 1980. In June 1978, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 1596, which designated some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao and large areas of their surrounding waters as "Kalayaan Island Group" ("Kalayaan" in Tagalog means "Freedom"), set up "Municipality of Kalayaan" and illegally included them in the Philippine territory.
60. The Philippines has also enacted a series of national laws to lay its own claims of territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, part of which conflicted with China's maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.
61. The Philippines has concocted many excuses to cover up its invasion and illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao in order to pursue its territorial pretensions. For instance, it claims that: "Kalayaan Island Group" is not part of Nansha Qundao but terra nullius; Nansha Qundao became "trust territory" after the end of the Second World War; the Philippines has occupied Nansha Qundao because of "contiguity or proximity" and out of "national security" considerations; "some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao are located in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines"; the Philippines' "effective control" over the relevant islands and reefs has become the "status quo" that cannot be changed.
ii. The Philippines' illegal claim has no historical or legal basis
62. The Philippines' territorial claim over part of Nansha Qundao is groundless from the perspectives of either history or international law.
63. First, Nansha Qundao has never been part of the Philippine territory. The territorial scope of the Philippines has already been defined by a series of international treaties. The United States, administrator of the Philippines at the relevant time, was clearly aware of these facts. On 12 August 1933, ex-Senator Isabelo de los Reyes of the United States-governed Philippines wrote a letter to Governor-General Frank Murphy in an attempt to claim that some Nansha islands formed part of the Philippine Archipelago on the ground of geographical proximity. That letter was referred to the Department of War and the Department of State. On 9 October, the United States Secretary of State replied that, "These islands [...] lie at a considerable distance outside the limits of the Philippine Islands which were acquired from Spain in 1898". In May 1935, the United States Secretary of War George Dern wrote a letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull, seeking the views of the State Department on the "validity and propriety" of the Philippines' territorial claims over some islands of Nansha Qundao. A memorandum of the Office of Historical Adviser in the State Department, signed by S.W. Boggs, pointed out that, "There is, of course, no basis for a claim on the part of the United States, as islands constituting part of the Philippine Archipelago". On 20 August, Secretary Hull officially replied in writing to Secretary Dern, stating that, "the islands of the Philippine group which the United States acquired from Spain by the treaty of 1898, were only those within the limits described in Article III", and that, referring to the relevant Nansha islands, "It may be observed that [...] no mention has been found of Spain having exercised sovereignty over, or having laid claim to, any of these islands". All these documents prove that the Philippines' territory never includes any part of Nanhai Zhudao, a fact that has been recognized by the international community, including the United States.
64. Second, the claim that "Kalayaan Island Group" is "terra nullius" discovered by the Philippines is groundless. The Philippines claims that its nationals "discovered" the islands in 1956, and uses this as an excuse to single out some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao and name them "Kalayaan Island Group". This is an attempt to create confusion over geographical names and concepts, and dismember China's Nansha Qundao. As a matter of fact, the geographical scope of Nansha Qundao is clear, and the so-called "Kalayaan Island Group" is part of China's Nansha Qundao. Nansha Qundao has long been an integral part of China's territory and is by no means "terra nullius".
65. Third, Nansha Qundao is not "trust territory" either. The Philippines claims that after the Second World War, Nansha Qundao became "trust territory", the sovereignty over which was undetermined. This claim finds no support in law or reality. The post-War trust territories were all specifically listed in relevant international treaties or the documents of the United Nations Trusteeship Council. Nansha Qundao was never included in them and was thus not trust territory at all.
66. Fourth, neither "contiguity or proximity" nor national security is a basis under international law for acquiring territory. Many countries have territories far away from their metropolitan areas, in some cases even very close to the shores of other countries. When exercising colonial rule over the Philippines, the United States had a dispute with the Netherlands regarding sovereignty over an island which is close to the Philippine Archipelago, and the United States' claim on the basis of contiguity was ruled as having no foundation in international law. Furthermore, it is just absurd to invade and occupy the territory of other countries on the ground of national security.
67. Fifth, the Philippines claims that some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao are located within its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and therefore should fall under its sovereignty or form part of its continental shelf. This is an attempt to use maritime jurisdiction provided for under UNCLOS to deny China's territorial sovereignty. This runs directly counter to the "land dominates the sea" principle, and goes against the purpose of UNCLOS, as stated in its preamble, to "establish [...] with due regard for the sovereignty of all States, a legal order for the seas and ocean". Therefore, a coastal state can only claim maritime jurisdiction under the precondition of respecting the territorial sovereignty of another state. No state can extend its maritime jurisdiction to an area under the sovereignty of another; still less can it use such jurisdiction as an excuse to deny another state's sovereignty or even to infringe upon its territory.
68. Sixth, the Philippines' so-called "effective control" on the basis of its illegal seizure is null and void. The international community does not recognize "effective control" created through occupation by force. The Philippines' "effective control" is mere occupation by naked use of force of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao. Such occupation violates the Charter of the United Nations and the basic norms governing international relations and is unequivocally prohibited by international law. This so-called "effective control" based on illegal seizure cannot change the basic fact that Nansha Qundao is China's territory. China firmly opposes any attempt to treat the seizure of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao as a so-called "fait accompli" or "status quo". China will never recognize such a thing.
iii. The development of the international law of the sea gave rise to the dispute between China and the Philippines over maritime delimitation
69. With the formulation and entering into effect of UNCLOS, the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea have gradually intensified.
70. Based on the practice of the Chinese people and the Chinese government in the long course of history and the position consistently upheld by successive Chinese governments, and pursuant to China's national law and under international law, including the 1958 Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on China's Territorial Sea, the 1992 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the 1996 Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on the Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1998 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf, and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China has, based on Nanhai Zhudao, internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. In addition, China has historic rights in the South China Sea.
71. The Philippines proclaimed its internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf according to, among others, the Philippines' Republic Act No. 387 of 1949, Republic Act No. 3046 of 1961, Republic Act No. 5446 and Presidential Proclamation No. 370 of 1968, Presidential Decree No. 1599 of 1978, and Republic Act No. 9522 of 2009.
72. In the South China Sea, China and the Philippines are states possessing land territory with opposite coasts, the distance between which is less than 400 nautical miles. The maritime areas claimed by the two states overlap, giving rise to a dispute over maritime delimitation.