A Philippine Supreme Court justice on Thursday launched a book that questions China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he would distribute it online to try to overcome China’s censorship and reach its people.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said his ebook can be downloaded for free in English, while it would be made available later in Mandarin, Vietnamese, Bahasa, Japanese and Spanish to help more people understand the basis of the Philippines’ stand against China’s territorial claims.
Carpio said public opinion, including in China, can help pressure Beijing to comply with an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated China’s historic claims based on a 1982 maritime treaty.
Carpio helped prepare the arbitration case, which the Philippines largely won.
China has dismissed the ruling and continued to develop seven artificial islands in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島). China’s construction of the islands on disputed reefs has alarmed rival claimants and the US.
“This book in its printed form can never be distributed in China. It will be banned,” Carpio said at the launch of his book in Manila. “The only way this ebook can reach the Chinese people is in electronic format through the Internet.”
“I believe that like all other people of the world, the Chinese people are inherently good, but their government has drilled into their minds that they own the South China Sea since 2,000 years ago. This is, of course, utterly false and the world will never accept this,” he said.
Officials at the Chinese embassy in Manila were not immediately available for comment.
In the book, titled The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea , Carpio uses old maps, photographs, excerpts from the arbitration ruling, Chinese government statements and documents to question the validity of China’s claims.
Former Philippine secretary of foreign affairs Albert del Rosario, who spearheaded the filing of the arbitration case against China in 2013, praised Carpio for promoting the rule of law and how that worked well for a small country standing up to a superpower, saying: “International law is the great equalizer.”
He gave a speech at the launch of Carpio’s book and said they stood together with most Philippine citizens in agreement that international rule of law applied to all.
Carpio’s studies on the South China Sea disputes are not part of his work on the Supreme Court.
He said he in 2015 asked the court’s permission to give lectures in 17 countries to explain the territorial conflicts, which many fear could become Asia’s next flash point.
Carpio warns in the book that China might be planning to build more island outposts at the North Luconia Shoals (北康暗沙) and South Luconia Shoals (南康暗沙) off Malaysia and the Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島) off the northwestern Philippines.
If it constructs an island base at Scarborough, China would have enough radar coverage of the South China Sea to be able to impose an air defense identification zone similar to what it did a few years ago in the East China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with Taiwan and Japan, he said.
China and the Philippines, along with Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have overlapping claims to parts or all of the South China Sea that straddles busy sea lanes and are believed to be atop undersea deposits of oil and gas.
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