Taiwan rejects Philippines' victory over China

MANILA, Philippines – Taiwan rejected the ruling of an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, that struck down China’s expansive claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), disclosed this position in a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday, July 13.

"The award rendered by the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the South China Sea arbitration is completely unacceptable to the government of the Republic of China," Taiwan said in a statement by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Taiwan added that the tribunal’s ruling on Tuesday, July 12, has "no legally binding force on the ROC." 

Explaining its position, Taiwan pointed out that the ruling refers to the ROC as "Taiwan Authority of China." Taiwan said, "This inappropriate designation is demeaning to the status of the ROC as a sovereign state."

Taiwan considers mainland China or the People's Republic of China (PRC) as illegitimate. The PRC, on the other hand, considers Taiwan a renegade government.

'No legally binding force'

Taiwan added that Taiping Island, or Itu Aba, "was not originally included in the Philippines’ submissions for arbitration."

"However, the tribunal took it upon itself to expand its authority, declaring ROC-governed Taiping Island, and other features in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, all to be rocks that 'do not generate an exclusive economic zone,'" Taiwan said.

"This decision severely jeopardizes the legal status of the South China Sea Islands, over which the ROC exercises sovereignty, and their relevant maritime rights," it added.

Taiwan said it "is beyond dispute" that it "is entitled to all rights" over the islands of the South China Sea. It added that the tribunal "did not formally invite" Taiwan to join the arbitration proceedings, nor "did it solicit the ROC’s views."

"Therefore, the award has no legally binding force on the ROC," it said.

While condemning the ruling, Taiwan urged "multilateral negotiations" to settle disputes in the South China Sea.

It added, "The ROC government reiterates that the South China Sea Islands are part of the territory of the ROC and that it will take resolute action to safeguard the country’s territory and relevant maritime rights."

A day after the Hague tribunal struck down China’s claims, a Taiwanese warship already set sail for the South China Sea "to defend Taiwan’s maritime territory." – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.