International Experts: China's 'Nine Dash Line' Has No Legal Basis

Experts and researchers further clarified the position and role of UNCLOS regarding settlement of the Bien Dong Sea disputes. They also reaffirmed the value of PCA's 2016 ruling.
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International Experts: China's 'Nine Dash Line' Has No Legal Basis
Photo: Baoquocte

University of Hamburg (Germany) held an online conference to discuss the 2016 PCA Arbitration on the South China Sea (called Bien Dong Sea or East Sea in Vietnamese). It has been five years since the order was first issued, giving the speakers much to talk about. The conference took place on July 9.

The conference received much attention from the international community. At the event, experts and researchers affirmed and further clarified the position and role of UNCLOS in the peaceful settlement of the Bien Dong Sea disputes. They also reaffirmed the value of PCA's 2016 ruling.

Chairing the conference, professor Thomas Engelbert from the University of Hamburg said that since the 2016 ruling was issued, the Bien Dong Sea situation continued to have tense developments. Continuous violations of international law caused many countries to voice their objections. Meanwhile, the process of negotiating a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China has not been completed.

According to the professor, the United States had recently promoted the Indo-Pacific strategy, the European Union (EU) and its many member states had also issued their own strategies on the region.

International Experts: China's 'Nine Dash Line' Has No Legal Basis
Professor Thomas Engelbert from the University of Hamburg. (Photo: ViNA)

Earlier this year, Japan repeatedly sent diplomatic notes to the United Nations rejecting China's sovereignty claims in the Bien Dong Sea. Many other countries, including United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam have also stated their opinions on tension in the region.

Professor Engelbert said that the international community wanted the Bien Dong Sea to be a safe, stable, and secure area. They also praise compliance with international law while strongly oppose to actions that violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) or the PCA's ruling.

Professor Suzette Suarez from the Bremen University of Applied Sciences (Germany) also affirmed that the 2016 ruling was a legal document with international value and played an important role in dispute settlement and in the demarcation of countries' continental shelf in the Bien Dong Sea.

International Experts: China's 'Nine Dash Line' Has No Legal Basis
Professor Takashi Hosoda from Charles University, Czech. (Photo: VNA )

According to UNCLOS, the demarcation of the continental shelf's limits is a binding and mandatory procedure. The international law and PCA's ruling have stated that China's 'Nine-Dash Line', or its other claims on the Bien Dong Sea, have no legal basis.

Sharing Suarez's opinion, other experts joining the conference considered the PCA's 2016 ruling as an important legal basis in resolving the Bien Dong Sea issue. They said that relevant parties needed to respect international law and not complicate the situation.

Regarding the role of European countries in solving the Bien Dong Sea issue, professor and journalist Rodion Ebbighausen (Deutsche Welle broadcaster) said that over the past few months, France, Germany, and the Netherlands issued national strategies for the Indo-Pacific.

In April 2021, the EU published a Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which refers to the Bien Dong Sea and promotes international law, especially UNCLOS. According to Ebbighausen, the EU pursues a multilateral and inclusive approach in dealing with this issue, which uses peaceful means on the basis of international law.

Regarding the Bien Dong Sea issue, Vietnam has repeatedly stated its lawful sovereignty. “Vietnam has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, as well as legal rights to Vietnam’s territorial waters as defined in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” said the spokeswoman of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang on July 8.
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