原文出处: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/03/28/the-china-philippines-dispute-in-the-south-china-sea-does-beijing-have-a-legitimate-claim/

标题: The China–Philippines dispute in the South China Sea: does Beijing have a legitimate claim?


The China–Philippines dispute in the South China Sea: does Beijing have a legitimate claim?

28 March 2012

Author: Robert Beckman, NUS and RSIS

After relative calm for the past few months, the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea has flared up again.

Manila’s announcement that it would open new blocks off Palawan for hydrocarbon exploration has triggered the latest exchange between the two countries. China objected to the reported actions, arguing that some of the blocks are in areas over which it claims rights and jurisdiction. The critical question here is whether China has a legitimate claim under international law to rights and jurisdiction in the waters where the blocks are located. If so, it would mean the blocks in question are within an ‘area in dispute’, and China’s objections to unilateral actions by the Philippines would also be valid.

China has a long-standing historic claim to sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which it refers to as the Nansha Islands, and has consistently objected to the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei each claiming sovereignty over some of the islands. China has claimed sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and their adjacent waters in official diplomatic notes to the UN. The ‘adjacent waters’ refer to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea which can be claimed from any land territory, including islands. China has also stated in its official diplomatic notes that the Spratly Islands are entitled to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf under Chinese law and under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). A state does not have sovereignty in its EEZ or on its continental shelf, but has ‘sovereign rights’ and jurisdiction for the purpose of exploring and exploiting the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil in these areas.

The Philippines claims that it has sovereign rights to explore and exploit the hydrocarbon resources in the Reed Bank blocks — near the Spratlys — because it claims a 200 nautical mile EEZ, measured from straight baselines connecting the outermost points of the outermost islands in its main archipelago. The Philippines has not claimed an EEZ or continental shelf from any of the disputed islands in the Spratlys over which it claims sovereignty. Rather, its position seems to be that even if some of the features near Reed Bank are ‘islands’, these islands should only be entitled to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea, not to an EEZ or continental shelf.

The Philippines’ position is based on the distinction in UNCLOS between ‘islands’ and ‘rocks’. While islands are in principle entitled to a territorial sea, EEZ and continental shelf, ‘rocks’ that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life are only entitled to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea. The practical effect of the Philippines’ position is to reduce the ‘areas in dispute’ in the Spratly Islands to the islands themselves and the 12 nautical mile territorial sea adjacent to them. Since the blocks in the Reed Bank are more than 12 nautical miles from any disputed island, they would not be within an area in dispute, but would fall solely within the Philippines’ EEZ, as measured from its archipelago.

China could maintain that some of the features in the Spratlys near Reed Bank, such as Nanshan Island, are ‘islands’ under UNCLOS because they are naturally formed areas of land above water at high tide. China could also maintain that some of these islands are entitled to an EEZ and continental shelf because they are capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own. If this claim were successful, China can maintain that it has sovereign rights and jurisdiction under UNCLOS to explore and exploit the hydrocarbon resources in these zones. Consequently, the EEZ and continental shelf measured from the disputed islands will overlap with the EEZ of the Philippines measured from its archipelago. The ‘area in dispute’ will then be the disputed islands, their 12 nautical mile territorial sea and the sections of the EEZs that overlap. If the blocks in question near Reed Bank are within an area in dispute, this will have implications for the activities that the Philippines and China can lawfully undertake.

For now, China arguably has a basis under UNCLOS and international law for claiming sovereign rights and jurisdiction to explore and exploit the hydrocarbon resources in the waters surrounding some of the Spratly Islands. And its protests to the Philippines can be seen as a legitimate action to preserve its rights. The best way forward may be for the two countries to sidestep the sovereignty and rock–island disputes, and enter into negotiations to define the areas in dispute that can be subject to joint development arrangements. In the meantime, China and the Philippines should exercise restraint and refrain from any unilateral activities which would exacerbate the already complex disputes.

Robert Beckman is Director at the Centre for International Law and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. He is also Adjunct Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.

This article first appeared here as RSIS Commentary No. 036/2012.



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  • jakemoonlight
    28th January, 2013, 2:08 am

    MR.Robert Beckman, Your analysis is very poor, you are only considering the china’s side. You said China has a long-standing historic claim to sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which it refers to as the Nansha Islands under UNCLOS EEZ but you did not consider the main archipelago of the Phillipines has much stronger right of the UNCLOS eez and Filipinos has been living in the Philippines much longer that china’s claim in nanshan. Please use your brain accordingly of maybe you have been paid by china to write this arcticle to favor them.

    • jack
      12th May, 2013, 8:03 am

      Philippines wasn’t even a nation before those claims were made and surveyed.It incorporated
      the Sulu Sultanate(Pahlawan included) after the Spaniards and Americans left.It’s claim is based on the 1982 UNCLOS, which means that if it did not exist, what would be her basis for claiming it? The Filipino constitution all along did not incorporate many of the Spratly islands as territory.They amend it after squabbling with China over it. The US defence pact with the Philippines does not include these islands because even the Americans don’t think they belongs to the Philippnies, causing her to go to the UN as last resort.


译者: 南沙群岛在线 www.nansha.org zt 




作者: Robert Beckman




中国长期以来一直对南中国海的斯普拉特利群岛声索历史主权,称之为南沙群岛,并一贯反对菲律宾,越南,马来西亚和文莱一些岛屿的主权声索。中国在其递交给联合国的官方照会中主张其对斯普拉特利群岛和邻近水域拥有主权。 这“邻近水域”指的是从任何领土包括岛屿算起的12海里领海。中国也在其官方外交照会中表明根据中国法律和1982年联合国公约海洋法(UNCLOS)南沙群岛享有专属经济区EEZ)和大陆架一个国家在其专属经济区或大陆架并不拥有主权,但享有“主权权利”以及勘探和开发这些地区的海床和底土的自然资源为目的管辖权

菲律宾声称拥有主权权利勘探及开采在礼乐滩区块油气资源 - 靠近南沙群岛 - 因为它声称一个200海里专属经济区,从连接其主要的群岛最外层岛屿的最外层点的直线基线起测量在其声称主权的任何南沙争议岛屿,菲律宾没有声称这些岛屿拥有专属经济区或大陆架。相反,它的观点似乎是,即使一些靠礼乐滩的岛礁真的是“岛屿”,这些岛屿也只应享有12海里领海,不享有专属经济区大陆架




Robert Beckman,新加坡国立大学国际法中心主任,以及南洋理工大学拉惹勒南国际研究学院(RSIS)的高级研究员

此文最早发布在 RSIS评论第 036/2012期.


2 条评论





        在这些岛屿被勘察和列入主权时,菲律宾甚至还不是一个国家。它成立国家是在西班牙人和美国人离开苏禄苏丹国(包括巴拉望)之后。如果菲律宾的诉求是根据1982年联合国海洋法公约,这意味着如果当时菲律宾并不存在,它有什么依据来提出这些声索?菲律宾宪法一直以来都未将南沙群岛纳入领土。他们与中国就其争吵后才修改它(宪法)。美国与菲律宾的防务协定也不包括这些岛屿,因为即使美国人不认为他们属于菲律宾 ,才导致菲律宾没办法把闹上联合国作为最后的手段。

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    • 南沙群岛是中国人最早发现,最早命名,最早经营,最早划域管辖的海域。那儿的岛礁和海域应该属于中国。

    • 中国做的不足的地方在于在那一段时间没有有效控制和驻军这些岛屿,导致周围国家有机可乘。现在要做的是解决争端收回领土。


      评论由 大约 9 年之前 在 zt 最后编辑
    • 中国的做法合理合法。