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U-Shaped Line and Maritime Delimitation

Territorial disputes in South China Sea: Making sense of the relevant laws

South China Sea

Territorial disputes in South China Sea:

Making sense of the relevant laws

Tommy Koh

The Straits Times

In a commentary published on Feb 28, Senior Writer Andy Ho wrote that China should argue its case based on customary international law, before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) can be applied. Below is a response to that piece.

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I THANK Andy Ho for his interest in the South China Sea. His op-ed article, “The international law basis behind China’s claims”, was, however, not helpful in clarifying key legal issues. I will attempt to disaggregate them and give clear answers to each of these issues.

  • What laws are applicable to the South China Sea?

The answer is that the South China Sea is governed by international law, particularly, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). All the claimant states, namely, Brunei…

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