Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 3 News List

SOUTH CHINA SEA: Academic rejects arbitration court’s ruling on Itu Aba

SUPPORTING LIFE:Itu Aba has wells that produce fresh water, and an ecology in which chickens can be raised, and fruit and vegetables can be grown, an academic said

Staff writer, with CNA

A Taiwanese academic said that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on South China Sea features was based on “incorrect” Western perspectives of how human habitation should be supported.

As Taiwan was not part of the litigation, Taipei does not have to accept the ruling, said Huang Kwei-bo (黃奎博), secretary-general of the Association of Foreign Relations — a non-profit group that promotes foreign and cross-strait relations.

In a case brought by the Philippines against China over disputes in the South China Sea, Manila argued that land formations claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea are not islands and therefore not entitled to 200 nautical mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zones.

While Taiwan was not party to the case, its claims in the South China Sea are similar to those of China, and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) was brought up in testimony during the hearing.

The tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday ruled that all of the high-tide features of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), including Itu Aba, are legally “rocks” that do not generate an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

Taiwan claims all of the Spratlys.

Huang said the members of the tribunal used personal experience to make the ruling on whether Itu Aba, which has been under the Republic of China’s jurisdiction since 1946, can sustain human habitation.

However, there are wells that produce fresh water, an ecology in which chickens can be raised and fruit and vegetables can be grown, while surrounding waters have fish, he said.

“So there are basically no problems supporting human life on Itu Abu,” which lies 1,600km southwest of Taiwan proper, Huang said.

The ruling regarding Itu Aba was “incorrect” and evidently far removed from the facts, he said.

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