A Closer Look at China’s Proposal for Joint Exploration with the Philippines

On November 20, Presidents Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the exchange of a “memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development” in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea between their respective foreign ministers in Manila. The highly anticipated agreement was expected to seal the radical change in relations between the two disputing parties in the South China Sea. But apart from the announcement of its title, details remain very sketchy.

Raging Waters in Benham Rise

Philippine secretary of national defense Delfin Lorenzana stirred up a political maelstrom in Manila last week with the revelation that Chinese survey vessels were apparently conducting oceanographic research work off the east coast of Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines.

Implications of the Philippines v. China Award on Jurisdiction

The Philippines scored a procedural victory on October 29, successfully dodging the jurisdiction and admissibility objections posed by China’s position paper released last December regarding Manila’s case against Beijing’s South China Sea claims. In a 151-page decision, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague affirmed the primacy of the United Nations […]

The Philippines between Scylla and Charybdis at The Hague

The Annex VII arbitral tribunal heard oral arguments from the Philippines last week on the issues of jurisdiction and admissibility of claims in the case it launched against China. Despite high hopes placed on Manila’s cause, these issues remain the most formidable legal obstacles to be surmounted. While the Philippine Memorial has not been made […]

Environmental Aggression in the South China Sea

China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea remain a matter of grave concern for reasons that are not solely political. The radical transformation of major coral atolls in the region’s marine ecosystem affects far more than the already huge area physically occupied by China’s new islands. The biophysical impacts extend well beyond their artificial […]

Reclamation in the South China Sea: Legal Loopholes, Practical Impacts

As if they were not complicated enough, the South China Sea disputes took a new turn in 2014 when China began massive land reclamation work in the region. The Philippines released photographs showing an unprecedented transformation of formerly pristine and submerged Johnson South Reef into high and dry white sand swarming with construction activity. Satellite […]

Arbitration 101: Philippines v. China

Introduction The arbitration case launched by the Philippines against China currently stands as the most significant, and most closely watched, development for specialists and observers of the maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS). To help observers navigate through this foggy proceeding, this article attempts to provide a focused overview of the arbitration case […]

Paper Melee in Philippines v. China Arbitration

Today’s deadline for the submission of China’s counter-memorial in the Philippines v. China arbitration has created a four-cornered melee of positions papers over one of the key issues in dispute, the legality of China’s nine-dash line claim. The United States weighed in first on December 5th with the release of its Limits in the Seas […]