WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo Wednesday issued the following statement regarding the International Tribunal’s decision in the case of The Republic of the Philippines vs. the People’s Republic of China. The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an international tribunal established under the authority of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both China and the Philippines are a party, ruled that China’s “nine-dash line” claims in the South China Sea were invalid. The court ruled unanimously that China has no historical rights to landmasses or territorial waters in the region and noted the severe environmental damage caused by Chinese reclamation activities. The case was brought to the PCA by the Philippines, who claimed that its sovereignty rights had been violated by Chinese island building as well as encroaching aerial and maritime patrols.
“I applaud the thorough and impartial review process by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. This landmark ruling is a triumph for rule of law and validates claims by the Philippines. The U.S. will continue to stand behind our long-time treaty ally. While this doesn’t resolve broader maritime claims disputes in the South China Sea, it is a step forward to establishing a precedent for future dispute resolution. Accordingly, I continue to urge ASEAN to implement the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and begin to finally resolve maritime disputes in the region.
“China’s lack of participation in the process and outright rejection of the ruling, even before it was made, is particularly concerning. China must be a responsible actor that respects the rule of law, even when decisions are not made in its favor. I hope the Chinese government will ultimately respect the ruling and work cooperatively with all parties to resolve outstanding claims. Peaceful resolution requires a fully inclusive process. Furthermore, the United States’ hesitance to ratify UNCLOS undermines our role in the region, and I again call on the Senate to ratify the agreement so that we can participate fully in the diplomatic processes.”