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Why China will not bring Spratlys issue to the United Nations

Based on applicable international maritime and related laws, China knows that if she petitions the United Nations International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to affirm  her dubious claim that she owns everything in the South China Sea aka West Philippine Sea – her chances of winning are about as likely as having a snowfall in the Sahara desert.

Both Courts have proper jurisdictions to settle sovereignty issues between nations  regarding marine territories – such as those concerning the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Let’s imagine  what most likely would happen if  China does take her case to the International Court of Justice  and the representative of China – let’s call him Mr. Lee – is before the Court headed by the Presiding Judge. Consider this scenario:

Judge:  “Please inform this Court of the basis  for your claim that the entire South China Sea aka West Philippine Sea belongs completely to the People’s Republic of China?” 
Mr. Lee: “Thank you, your honor. Our claim  is based on the historical fact that this entire area has belonged to China since the Han Dynasty.”
Judge: “How do you intend to prove your case?”
Mr. Lee: “I will present to this Court an almost two thousand year old Han Dynasty map that indicates the limits of the Han Dynasty kingdom.”
Judge: “Let’s  assume for purposes of discussion  that  the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and other surrounding countries were provinces or part of the Han Dynasty during its time even if the map you hold may just actually be a navigational map which does not really define the limits of the Han Dynasty. Now  my study of China’s history indicatethat the Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. To 220 A.D.  Is this correct?”
Mr. Lee: “Yes your honor.”
Judge: “I  assume Mr. Lee that you are familiar with Alexander the Great, the young Macedonian king who conquered much of the ancient world.”
Mr. Lee: “I am, your honor.”
Judge: “At the time of his death in 323
, Alexander’s kingdom included Greece, Syria, Persia now known as Iran, Egypt and a part of India. Are you aware Mr. Lee that Macedonia, Alexander’s country – is now known as the Republic of Macedonia.?”
Mr. Lee: “If you say so your honor.”
Judge: “Good! You appear to know your history. I assume you are also familiar with the  
Roman Empire which existed for over a thousand years.”
Mr. Lee: “Thank you your honor, I do read history.”
Judge: “You are then aware Mr. Lee that at it’s height, the Roman Empire included most of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.”
Mr. Lee: “I am aware, your honor.”
Judge: “Now Mr. Lee, since the time of Alexander, the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty – through the course of time and historical events, various  independent countries have emerged in Europe, Africa and Asia – which now have their own respective territories. This is a reality which  we all have to accept, wouldn’t you say?”
Mr. Lee: “We cannot deny reality, your honor.”
Judge: “Now Mr.Lee, in all candor, do you seriously believe that if the Republic of Macedonia and the Italian government were to come before this Court and petition us to affirm that they own the territories of these now independent  countries because they were once a part of Alexander’s empire or the Roman empire – that we would be persuaded to grant these petitions?”
Mr. Lee: “I understand what you are getting at, Judge – but most of what we are claiming as ours is marine area and not land.”
Judge: “The Spratlys and the Paracel islands are not land? Anyway, isn’t it a fact that 
China is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which she ratified on July 7, 1996 thereby agreeing to be bound by it’s provisions – and part of those provisions is that anything within 200 miles from the baseline of a country belongs to that country.?
Mr. Lee: “China did agree to those provisions at a time when it was not yet aware of the far reaching consequences of UNCLOS to her national interests.”
Judge: “I will not mince my words Mr. Lee. What you mean is that at that time, the world, including China, was not yet aware, that vast deposits of oil and natural gas were to be found within the territorial limits of neighboring countries. Now because of this awareness, even if China knows she is trespassing and violating international law, she is using the coercive might of her size, military or otherwise – to grab these enormous reserves of petrowealth  from the territories of her smaller, weaker, poorer neighbors – who badly need these assets to improve the plight of their own people. 
Postscript:  In view of all the facts and existing applicable law,  the likelihood  is that the UN court will find China’s petition to be without merit.
Notwithstanding requests from the Philippines,  neighboring countries and the United States  to bring sovereignty issues in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations – China has steadfastly refused to do so. Instead, it is constantly involved in mind games, using scare tactics, insisting that everything in the whole West Philippine Sea is theirs and that this issue is non negotiable.
By so doing, the giant oil hungry  dragon seeks to condition the national minds of her neighbors  to accept inequitable bilateral settlement agreements – without United Nations or United States involvement. The Philippines, Vietnam and other neighbor countries must not fall into this trap. They should insist – with the aid of the global community, with military means if necessary – that China should respect their rights and leave their national patrimony alone.
Note: The California State Bar honors Attorney Ted Laguatan as one of the best lawyers in the country. He is one of only 29 U.S.  lawyers officially certified continuously for more than 20 years as an Expert Specialist  in Immigration Law. For communications: (San Francisco area) 
455 Hickey Blvd. Suite 516, Daly City, Ca 94015 Tel 650 991 1154
Fax 650 991 1184 Email

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