[Opinion] The South China Sea should be of concern to Europe

Recently, a number of Chinese coastal patrol vessels blocked cargo ships in the Philippines on a voyage to an undisclosed area in the South China Sea.

The French and German ambassador to the Philippines staged a protest on Twitter. More needs to be done. At stake is the future of marine multilateralism.

Unfortunately, at the moment the South China Sea maritime controversy is viewed by many Europeans as (too) far away or as part of a complex electronic game between China and the US which is best not to leave.

The immutable notion ignores the fact that South China’s Sea will be the artificial or recreational sea for many maritime nations around the world; one of the pillars of the EU.

The People’s Republic of China states that the entire maritime region, based on so-called historical freedom on the map since 1947.

The map shows the red dots looking in all directions on the South China Sea. The red dots form the so-called nine dots. In some parts of the South China Sea, there are rival courtyards and boulders such as Spratly, Paracels and Pratas.

China claims that all of them, including rocks hundreds of miles from each Chinese coast. Vietnam and the Philippines have a lot to say. Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia are also affected but to a lesser extent.

The Permanent Court of Judgment in The Hague reported on 12 July 2016 that there was no evidence that China had a monopoly on the history of the main waterway. As a result, it ruled that China’s old constitutional rights could not be replaced by international law, since China was a signatory Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) then.

The Philippine government, which initiated the case, has been at the forefront of the case under Duterte, who runs a two-lane road in Beijing.

Due to jurisdiction, however, the arbitral tribunal has not considered jurisdiction over regional jurisdiction over maritime disputes between the parties. It means there is a lot to follow legally.

In particular, the EU has the mandate to fight this war. The US – unfortunately – has not ratified the Maritime Act, although it follows this differently from China.

What to do? The EU needs to put in place its own legal principles to work with neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

The EU should also include cases such as the Amicus curiae, its legal partner. It is of interest to see that international law is being applied and that minor neighbors are not being harassed in their communities.

It has to work with Taiwan to expose and analyze the history of the 1947 voyage, which was also reported in the South China Sea. Taiwan has ancient records in Taipei. This could provide important evidence for dialogue on Chinese issues.

The EU must raise this issue with China in all EU-China negotiations.

What is important is that the EU only accepts answers in accordance with international law in the South China Sea. This should be done consistently and drill holes in Chinese conflicts using existing laws. There are no historical rights once.

This is an excellent place to demonstrate European Strategic independence in compliance with the Multilateral Law of the Sea.

If China is allowed to violate maritime law in the South China Sea, consider the consequences elsewhere. It can reach the High North of Europe. In the Arctic, the Nordic states have a number of lawsuits against Russia that have been filed so far as to be legally settled.

It would not be the first time, when the two rulers were encouraging each other. It would be a world order, no one wants it.


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