South China Sea and International Law: Vietnam, Philippines Watching China Closely


Peace and Freedom

By Robert Beckman
The Straits Times
Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chinese submarine in the South China Sea

Dr Mark Valencia’s recent comment titled “Separating fact from fiction in South China Sea conundrum” has provided much food for thought. However, I believe that some of his points on international law warrant a reply in order to help clarify the facts, as well as fictions about the South China Sea.

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First, Dr Valencia seems to agree that the United States is neutral on the issue of which state has the better claim to sovereignty over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

This is correct. The US position is that any claim to sovereignty by any state over features in the South China Sea must be in accordance with international law.

Under international law, a claim to sovereignty can be made only to offshore features that meet the definition…

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