Ruling on Philippines v China territorial case out on July 12

An international court that heard the case the Philippines brought against China's vast claims in the South China Sea will make known its long-awaited judgment on July 12.

In a one-page statement late last night, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, in the Netherlands, said it would inform all parties to the case via e-mail. It will then post a press statement containing a summary of its decision on its website.

The Philippines, unable to confront Chinese might in the high seas with its weak navy, filed a 4,000-page plea in March 2013 asking the century-old PCA to declare China's "nine-dash line" as inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The line protrudes from China's southern Hainan island and loops towards Indonesia. It covers nearly all of the 3.5 million sq km South China Sea, including even waters that are 1,611km away from the nearest Chinese land mass and nearer the borders of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, an expert on territorial laws, said the worst the Philippines can expect is if the PCA refuses to rule on the validity of the nine-dash line. That will embolden China to evict other claimants from the rocky outcrops they now occupy.

The best the Philippines can hope for - a scenario that is widely expected - is for the arbitration court to strike down China's historic justifications for the nine-dash line.

"That's the best case. We win everything," said Mr Carpio.

Beijing has refused to take part in the case, saying it will reject any outcome favouring Manila. In December 2014, it released a "position paper" questioning the arbitration court's jurisdiction. China has in recent months reiterated that it will not recognise the PCA's ruling.

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Ruling on Philippines v China territorial case out on July 12'. Print Edition | Subscribe