An arbitration court in The Hague Tuesday ruled in favor of the Philippines after finding no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources in the South China Sea. The Philippines brought the case at an international tribunal in 2013 contesting Beijing's claims in the disputed area.
The panel said that China has no "historic title" over the waters of the South China Sea and none of the Spratly Islands grant the country an exclusive economic zone established under a U.N. treaty. It also found that China interfered with Philippine fishing rights in the disputed waters. China had “violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone” and had caused "permanent, irreparable harm" to the coral reef ecosystem at Spratlys, the ruling said.
"Our experts are studying this award with the care and thoroughness that this significant arbitral outcome deserves," Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay told a news conference. "We call on all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety. The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision."
China issued a statement after the ruling saying it has historic rights in South China Sea, through which over $5 trillion of maritime trade passes annually. In the statement, China reaffirmed territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests in the disputed waters. Beijing also said that it "does not accept and does not recognise" the judgment of the Hague tribunal, the country's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Just as the United Nations-backed tribunal's verdict was to be announced, a Chinese civilian aircraft successfully carried out calibration tests on two new airports in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Xinhua reported. The two airports, which are on Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, will reportedly help with personal transfers to the Spratlys.