The Hague ruling on 'South China Sea' dispute to be announced at 4 pm today

By VnExpress   July 12, 2016 | 03:16 pm GMT+7

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A panel of five judges at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will announce at 4 p.m. today (Vietnam time) their ruling in a case brought by the Philippines against China over its actions in the South China Sea, or what Vietnam refers to as its East Sea.

It marks the first time any legal challenge has been brought in the South China Sea territorial dispute.

The tensions in the sea have simmered for decades, intensifying in recent years, in which China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all claim to some of the world's most promising oil and gas fields and vital fishing grounds.

The tribunal will not decide on matters of territorial sovereignty, but will apply the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in determining which countries can claim economic exploitation rights, based on geographic features.

A decision on the nine-dash-line's legality would signal that the court's judges had "decided to go big", said Julian Ku, law professor at Hofstra University. "If the nine-dash line were declared invalid, then in theory all the other countries would be emboldened."

The court has no power of enforcement, but a victory for the Philippines could spur Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, which also have overlapping claims, to file similar cases.

Here are some key details about the case.

Illustrated by VnExpress/Tien Thanh

Illustrated by VnExpress/Tien Thanh

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