KUALA LUMPUR: Given Chinas importance as a trading and economic partner, ventured Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming in a statement, Malaysia should minimize the risk of agitating the country in the South China Sea. It should continue bilateral negotiations on the areas of dispute.
It should, at the same time, negotiate for the establishment of a robust Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea between Asean and China.
The option to use international arbitration as a means to seek a decision on the areas of dispute between Malaysia and China in the South China Sea, he added, should be used strategically. It can be employed when other options have been taken off the table.
In any case, added the MP, Malaysia should cautiously welcome the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China.
He pointed out that the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Tribunal) on the 12th of July, 2016, establishes a number of important findings that are consequential to the areas being claimed by both Malaysia and China in the South China Sea.
Firstly, the Tribunal found that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line.
Secondly, the Tribunal found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles. Some of the features under dispute lie within the EEZ of the Philippines.
Thirdly, the Tribunal found that China had violated the sovereignty of the Philippines by obstructing fishermen from that country, constructing artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the Philippines EEZ.
Fourthly, the Tribunal found that China had cause severe harm to the marine environment as a result of its large scale reclamation activities in seven features in the Spratly Islands.
Fifthly, the Tribunal found that China had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating or extending the Parties disputes during the settlement process because of its large scale reclamation activities.
The findings of the Tribunal, if applied to other cases in the South China Sea, would strengthen Malaysias claim on features such as James Shoal or Beting Serupai, 80km northwest of Bintulu, Sarawak and well within the continental shelf of Malaysia and the 200 nautical mile EEZ.
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