19 December 2014
China has responded softly to the Philippines’ conviction of nine Chinese fishermen for poaching near Half-Moon Shoal. China’s not-so-strident stance raises questions about its “historic rights” claim in the South China Sea.
IN NOVEMBER 2014, a Philippine court found nine Chinese fishermen guilty of poaching sea turtles near the Half-Moon Shoal in the South China Sea. Manila claimed that the poaching took place in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). On that basis, the fishermen were fined US$102,000 each, and they may remain in jail until May 2015 as they are unlikely to be able to pay up.
China also claims sovereignty over the shoal. From Beijing’s point of view, the fishermen were in Chinese waters exercising China’s “historical rights”, and the Philippines had no right to arrest them and try them in a Philippine court. What is puzzling, though, is China’s low-profile response to the arrest, legal process, and verdict despite the fact that Chinese leaders have been expressing strong resolve to protect China’s maritime interests.
…Lim Kheng Swe is a Research Analyst and Li Mingjiang is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 27/01/2016