• Scarborough Shoal

Scarborough Shoal (Photo : YouTube)

News of China planning to set up an outpost on Scarborough Shoal, or Panatag, made U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warn China of military action. It is not only Washington which is observing developments in the South China Sea as the issue of which country owns the shoal has been elevated to an international court.

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The U.N. Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) said on Thursday that it would enter into deliberations on the arbitration case over ownership of Panatag Reef which the Philippines asked the tribunal to resolve. The U.N. body said it plans to issue its decision on July 7, 2016, reported Manilalivewire.

In anticipation of the release of the court’s verdict, officials of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs are conducting emergency meetings with senior diplomats and foreign policy experts. The meetings aim to develop a concrete strategy once the decision is released.

Although the shoal is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone, China refused to withdraw from Panatag, resulting in Manila filing the memorial with the PCA based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

China claims that Scarborough is theirs based on its nine-dash line claim, but the Philippines said that Beijing’s claim is invalid since it breaches UNCLOS agreements on exclusive economic zones and territorial waters.

In turn, China, besides not participating in the deliberation, charged Manila with violating the voluntary Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, inked in 2002 between China and the ASEAN which includes the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Japan Times reported that Japan, in a span of one week, said it saw a Chinese reconnaissance vessel sailing on Wednesday through its territorial waters at about 3:30 a.m. The ship was spotted near Kochinoerabu Island in East China Sea.