The Philippines submitted 3,000 pages rebutting China’s claim that an international body does not have the jurisdiction to decide on Manila’s South China Sea complaints. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the supplemental documentation had been submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration on Monday.
China has refused to official participate in the case, saying it does not accept international arbitration over the South China Sea disputes. However, Beijing did openly release a position paper making clear its objections to the arbitration process. In particular, China argued that the arbitral tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to decide the case. Beijing also rebutted Manila’s arguments that China’s nine-dash line claim in inconsistent with the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Though that position paper was not an official document submitted to the tribunal, it apparently was seen and considered anyway – exactly as Beijing intended. According to DFA spokesman Charles Jose, the tribunal sent 26 questions for clarification to Manila on December 16, a little over a week after Beijing’s position paper went public. The questions considered both the issue of jurisdiction and the merits of the case. The Philippine response, over 3,000 pages in length, included “200 pages of written arguments” and “a 200-page atlas containing detailed information about 49 islands, reefs and other features in the South China Sea.”
“The Philippines is confident that its answers to the tribunal’s questions leave no doubt that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the case and that the Philippines’ claims, including in particular its claims concerning the nine-dash line, are well-founded in fact and law,” the DFA said in a statement. The statement also praised the tribunal for its “evident care and attention… to the case, as reflected by the scope and detail of the tribunal’s questions.” Jose added that the tribunal’s was handling “with utmost professionalism the difficulties created by China’s decision not to appear, taking care to make sure that neither side is prejudiced by that decision.”