IV. The Philippines Has Repeatedly Taken Moves
that Complicate the Relevant Disputes
92. Since the 1980s, the Philippines has repeatedly taken moves that complicate the relevant disputes.
i. The Philippines attempts to entrench its illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao
93. In China's Nansha Qundao, the Philippines started in the 1980s to build military facilities on some islands and reefs it has invaded and illegally occupied. In the 1990s, the Philippines continued to build airfields and naval and air force facilities on these illegally-occupied islands and reefs; centered on Zhongye Dao, the construction has extended to other islands and reefs, with runways, military barracks, docks and other facilities built and renovated, so as to accommodate heavy transport planes, fighter jets and more and larger vessels. Furthermore, the Philippines made deliberate provocations by frequently sending its military vessels and aircraft to intrude into Wufang Jiao, Xian'e Jiao, Xinyi Jiao, Banyue Jiao and Ren'ai Jiao of China's Nansha Qundao, and destroyed survey markers set up by China.
94. Still worse, on 9 May 1999, the Philippines sent BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57), a military vessel, to intrude into China's Ren'ai Jiao and illegally ran it aground on the pretext of "technical difficulties". China immediately made solemn representations to the Philippines, demanding the immediate removal of that vessel. But the Philippines claimed that the vessel could not be towed away for "lack of parts".
95. Over this matter, China has repeatedly made representations to the Philippines and renewed the same demand. For instance, in November 1999, the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines met with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Domingo Siazon and Chief of the Presidential Management Staff Leonora de Jesus to make another round of representations. Many times the Philippines promised to tow away the vessel, but it has taken no action.
96. In September 2003, upon the news that the Philippines was preparing to build facilities around that military vessel illegally run aground at Ren'ai Jiao, China lodged immediate representations. The Philippine Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs Franklin Ebdalin responded that the Philippines had no intention to construct facilities on Ren'ai Jiao and that, as a signatory to the DOC, the Philippines had no desire to and would not be the first to violate the Declaration.
97. But the Philippines did not fulfill its undertaking to tow away that vessel. Instead, it made even worse provocations. In February 2013, cables were lined up around that grounded vessel and people on board bustled around, making preparations for the construction of permanent facilities. In response to China's repeated representations, the Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin claimed that the Philippines was simply resupplying and repairing the vessel, and promised that no facilities would be built on Ren'ai Jiao.
98. On 14 March 2014, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement openly declaring that the vessel it ran aground at Ren'ai Jiao was placed there as a permanent Philippine government installation. This was an apparent attempt to provide an excuse for its continued refusal to fulfill its undertaking to tow away that vessel in order to illegally seize Ren'ai Jiao. China immediately responded that it was shocked by this statement and reiterated that it would never allow the Philippines to seize Ren'ai Jiao by any means.
99. In July 2015, the Philippines stated publicly that the so-called maintenance repair was being done to fortify the vessel.
100. To sum up, by running aground its military vessel at Ren'ai Jiao, then promising repeatedly to tow it away but breaking that promise repeatedly and even fortifying it, the Philippines has proven itself to be the first to openly violate the DOC.
101. Over the years, the Philippines has invaded and illegally occupied some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao and constructed various military facilities thereupon in an attempt to establish a fait accompli of permanent occupation. These moves have grossly violated China's sovereignty over the relevant islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao and violated the Charter of the United Nations and basic norms of international law.
ii. The Philippines has increasingly intensified its infringement of China's maritime rights and interests
102. Since the 1970s, the Philippines, asserting its unilateral claims, has intruded into, among others, the maritime areas of Liyue Tan and Zhongxiao Tan of China's Nansha Qundao to carry out illegal oil and gas exploratory drilling, including listing the relevant blocks for bidding.
103. Since 2000, the Philippines has expanded the areas for bidding, intruding into larger sea areas of China's Nansha Qundao. A large span of sea areas of China's Nansha Qundao was designated as bidding blocks by the Philippines in 2003. During the fifth "Philippine Energy Contracting Round" launched in May 2014, four of the bidding blocks on offer reached into relevant sea areas of China's Nansha Qundao.
104. The Philippines has repeatedly intruded into relevant waters of China's Nansha Qundao, harassing and attacking Chinese fishermen and fishing boats conducting routine fishing operations. Currently available statistics show that from 1989 to 2015, 97 incidents occurred in which the Philippines infringed upon the safety, life and property of Chinese fishermen: 8 involving shooting, 34 assault and robbery, 40 capture and detention, and 15 chasing. These incidents brought adverse consequences to close to 200 Chinese fishing vessels and over 1,000 Chinese fishermen. In addition, the Philippines treated Chinese fishermen in a violent, cruel and inhumane manner.
105. Philippine armed personnel often use excessive force against Chinese fishermen in utter disregard of the safety of their lives. For example, on 27 April 2006, one armed Philippine fishing vessel intruded into Nanfang Qiantan of China's Nansha Qundao and attacked Chinese fishing boat Qiongqionghai 03012. One Philippine armed motor boat carrying four gunmen approached that Chinese fishing boat. Immediately these gunmen fired several rounds of bullets at the driving panel, killing Chen Yichao and three other Chinese fishermen on the spot, severely wounding two others and causing minor injuries to another. Subsequently a total of 13 gunmen forced their way onboard the Chinese fishing boat and seized satellite navigation and communication equipment, fishing equipment and harvests and other items.
106. The Philippines has repeatedly infringed China's maritime rights and interests in an attempt to expand and entrench its illegal claims in the South China Sea. These actions have grossly violated China's sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea. By doing so, the Philippines has seriously violated its own commitment made under the DOC to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes. By firing upon Chinese fishing boats and fishermen, illegally seizing and detaining Chinese fishermen, giving them inhumane treatment and robbing them of their property, the Philippines has gravely infringed upon the personal and property safety and the dignity of Chinese fishermen and blatantly trampled on their basic human rights.
iii. The Philippines also has territorial pretensions on China's Huangyan Dao
107. The Philippines also has territorial pretensions on China's Huangyan Dao and attempted to occupy it illegally.
108. Huangyan Dao is China's inherent territory, over which China has continuously, peacefully and effectively exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction.
109. Before 1997, the Philippines had never challenged China's sovereignty over Huangyan Dao, nor had it laid any territorial claim to it. On 5 February 1990, Philippine Ambassador to Germany Bienvenido A. Tan, Jr. stated in a letter to German HAM radio amateur Dieter Löffler that, "According to the Philippine National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the Scarborough Reef or Huangyan Dao does not fall within the territorial sovereignty of the Philippines."
110. A "Certification of Territorial Boundary of the Republic of the Philippines", issued by the Philippine National Mapping and Resource Information Authority on 28 October 1994, stated that "the territorial boundaries and sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines are established in Article III of the Treaty of Paris signed on December 10, 1898", and confirmed that the "Territorial Limits shown in the official Map No. 25 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, are fully correct and show the actual status". As described above, the Treaty of Paris and other two treaties define the territorial limits of the Philippines, and China's Huangyan Dao clearly lies outside those limits. Philippine Official Map No. 25 reflects this. In a letter dated 18 November 1994 to the American Radio Relay League, Inc., the Philippine Amateur Radio Association, Inc. wrote that, "one very important fact remains, the national agency concerned had stated that based on Article III of the Treaty of Paris signed on December 10, 1898, Scarborough Reef lies just outside the territorial boundaries of the Philippines".
111. In April 1997, the Philippines turned its back on its previous position that Huangyan Dao is not part of the Philippine territory. The Philippines tracked, monitored and disrupted an international radio expedition on Huangyan Dao organized by the Chinese Radio Sports Association. In disregard of historical facts, the Philippines laid its territorial claim to Huangyan Dao on the grounds that it is located within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone claimed by the Philippines. In this regard, China made representations several times to the Philippines, pointing out explicitly that Huangyan Dao is China's inherent territory and that the Philippines' claim is groundless, illegal and void.
112. On 17 February 2009, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act No. 9522. That act illegally includes into the Philippines' territory China's Huangyan Dao and some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao. China immediately made representations to the Philippines and issued a statement, reiterating China's sovereignty over Huangyan Dao, Nansha Qundao and the adjacent waters, and declaring in explicit terms that any territorial claim over them made by any other country is illegal and void.
113. On 10 April 2012, the Philippines' naval vessel BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) intruded into the adjacent waters of China's Huangyan Dao, illegally seized Chinese fishermen and fishing boats operating there and treated the fishermen in a grossly inhumane manner, thus deliberately causing the Huangyan Dao Incident. In response to the Philippines' provocation, China immediately made multiple strong representations to Philippine officials in Beijing and Manila to protest the Philippines' violation of China's territorial sovereignty and harsh treatment of Chinese fishermen, and demanded that the Philippines immediately withdraw all its vessels and personnel. The Chinese government also promptly dispatched China Maritime Surveillance and China Fisheries Law Enforcement vessels to Huangyan Dao to protect China's sovereignty and rescue the Chinese fishermen. In June 2012, after firm representations repeatedly made by China, the Philippines withdrew relevant vessels and personnel from Huangyan Dao.
114. The Philippines' claim of sovereignty over China's Huangyan Dao is completely baseless under international law. The illegal claim that "Huangyan Dao is within the Phlippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone so it is Philippine territory" is a preposterous and deliberate distortion of international law. By sending its naval vessel to intrude into Huangyan Dao's adjacent waters, the Philippines grossly violated China's territorial sovereignty, the Charter of the United Nations and fundamental principles of international law. By instigating mass intrusion of its vessels and personnel into waters of Huangyan Dao, the Philippines blatantly violated China's sovereignty and sovereign rights therein. The Philippines' illegal seizure of Chinese fishermen engaged in normal operations in waters of Huangyan Dao and the subsequent inhumane treatment of them are gross violations of their dignity and human rights.
iv. The Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration is an act of bad faith
115. On 22 January 2013, the then government of the Republic of the Philippines unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration. In doing so, the Philippines has turned its back on the consensus reached and repeatedly reaffirmed by China and the Philippines to settle through negotiation the relevant disputes in the South China Sea and violated its own solemn commitment in the DOC. Deliberately packaging the relevant disputes as mere issues concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS while knowing full well that territorial disputes are not subject to UNCLOS and that maritime delimitation disputes have been excluded from the UNCLOS compulsory dispute settlement procedures by China's 2006 declaration, the Philippines has wantonly abused the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures. This initiation of arbitration aims not to settle its disputes with China, but to deny China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. This course of conduct is taken out of bad faith.
116. First, by unilaterally initiating arbitration, the Philippines has violated its standing agreement with China to settle the relevant disputes through bilateral negotiation. In relevant bilateral documents, China and the Philippines have agreed to settle through negotiation their disputes in the South China Sea and reaffirmed this agreement many times. China and the Philippines made solemn commitment in the DOC to settle through negotiation relevant disputes in the South China Sea, which has been repeatedly affirmed in bilateral documents. The above bilateral documents between China and the Philippines and relevant provisions in the DOC are mutually reinforcing and constitute an agreement in this regard between the two states. By this agreement, they have chosen to settle the relevant disputes through negotiation and to exclude any third party procedure, including arbitration. Pacta sunt servanda. This fundamental norm of international law must be observed. The Philippines' breach of its own solemn commitment is a deliberate act of bad faith. Such an act does not generate any right for the Philippines, nor does it impose any obligation on China.
117. Second, by unilaterally initiating arbitration, the Philippines has violated China's right to choose means of dispute settlement of its own will as a state party to UNCLOS. Article 280 of Part XV of UNCLOS stipulates: "Nothing in this Part impairs the right of any States Parties to agree at any time to settle a dispute between them concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention by any peaceful means of their own choice." Article 281 of UNCLOS provides: "If the States Parties which are parties to a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention have agreed to seek settlement of the dispute by a peaceful means of their own choice, the procedures provided for in this Part apply only where no settlement has been reached by recourse to such means and the agreement between the parties does not exclude any further procedure". Given that China and the Philippines have made an unequivocal choice to settle through negotiation the relevant disputes, the compulsory third-party dispute settlement procedures under UNCLOS do not apply.
118. Third, by unilaterally initiating arbitration, the Philippines has abused the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures. The essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines is an issue of territorial sovereignty over some islands and reefs of Nansha Qundao, and the resolution of the relevant matters also constitutes an integral part of maritime delimitation between China and the Philippines. Land territorial issues are not regulated by UNCLOS. In 2006, pursuant to Article 298 of UNCLOS, China made an optional exceptions declaration excluding from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures of UNCLOS disputes concerning, among others, maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, military and law enforcement activities. Such declarations made by about 30 states, including China, form an integral part of the UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanism. By camouflaging its submissions, the Philippines deliberately circumvented the optional exceptions declaration made by China and the limitation that land territorial disputes are not subject to UNCLOS, and unilaterally initiated the arbitration. This course of conduct constitutes an abuse of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures.
119. Fourth, in order to push forward the arbitral proceedings, the Philippines has distorted facts, misinterpreted laws and concocted a pack of lies:
— The Philippines, fully aware that its submissions concern China's territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea, and that territorial issue is not subject to UNCLOS, deliberately mischaracterizes and packages the relevant issue as those concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS;
— The Philippines, fully aware that its submissions concern maritime delimitation, and that China has made an declaration, pursuant to Article 298 of UNCLOS, excluding disputes concerning, among others, maritime delimitation from the UNCLOS third-party dispute settlement procedures, intentionally detaches the diverse factors that shall be taken into consideration in the process of a maritime delimitation and treat them in an isolated way, in order to circumvent China's optional exceptions declaration;
— The Philippines deliberately misrepresents certain consultations with China on maritime affairs and cooperation, all of a general nature, as negotiations over the subject-matters of the arbitration, and further claims that bilateral negotiations therefore have been exhausted, despite the fact that the two states have never engaged in any negotiation on those subject-matters;
— The Philippines claims that it does not seek a determination of any territorial issue or a delimitation of any maritime boundary, and yet many times in the course of the arbitral proceedings, especially during the oral hearings, it denies China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea;
— The Philippines turns a blind eye to China's consistent position and practice on the South China Sea issue, and makes a completely false assertion that China lays an exclusive claim of maritime rights and interests to the entire South China Sea;
— The Philippines exaggerates Western colonialists' role in the South China Sea in history and denies the historical facts and corresponding legal effect of China's longstanding exploration, exploitation and administration in history of relevant waters of the South China Sea;
— The Philippines puts together some remotely relevant and woefully weak pieces of evidence and makes far-fetched inferences to support its submissions;
— The Philippines, in order to make out its claims, arbitrarily interprets rules of international law, and resorts to highly controversial legal cases and unauthoritative personal opinions in large quantity.
120. In short, the Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration contravenes international law including the UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanism. The Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration established at the Philippines' unilateral request has, ab initio, no jurisdiction, and awards rendered by it are null and void and have no binding force. China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China does not accept or recognize those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.