Contents: Introduction.1. Why does China claim the SCS? 2. Background of the issue. 3. China’s territorial claims in the SCS. 4. Status of an island and its legal validity. 5. Judicial regime in historical waters and maritime delimitation. 6. Freedom of navigation. 7. Lack of sovereignty resulting in maritime crimes. 8. Arbitration case - Philippines v. China. 9. Dispute settlement. Conclusion and suggestions.
Legal aspects receive greater spotlight in the backdrop of the July 12 2016 verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on Philippines vs. China on the South China Sea dispute. The South China Sea is considered by China as its own, which raises international concerns. Its actions curtail freedom of navigation, by making claims on sovereignty, building artificial islands, dominating the sea and air connectivity. To determine how the claims made violate legal validity, this occasional paper does a comparative study by relating facts with the provisions stated in the UNCLOS and other international rules of law.