Scarborough Shoal or Scarborough Reef
The shoal forms a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and rocks or very small islands 55 kilometres (34 mi) around with a total area including shallow water areas of 150 square kilometers. It has a lagoon with area of 130 km² and depth of about 15 metres (49 ft). The shoal is a protrusion from a 3,500 m deep abyssal plain. Several of the rocks or small islands including "South Rock" are 1/2 m to 3 m high, and many of the reefs are just below water at high tide. Near the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of an iron tower, 8.3 m high. To the east, the 5,000 - 6,000 meter deep Manila Trench separates the shoal from the Philippine archipelago.
(The Scarborough shoal is about 137 miles west of Zambales within the 200 nautical miles continental shelf of the Philippines. It is clearly Phil’s territory as sanctioned by international law of UNCLOS wherein China is likewise a member. China is a signatory of UNCLOS. It should have been honoring it and the treaty it is a signatory of.)
PART VIII (UN CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA) REGIME OF ISLANDS Article 121. Regime of islands
1. An island is a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is above water at high tide.
2. Except as provided for in paragraph 3, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of an island are determined in accordance with the provisions of this Convention applicable to other land territory.
(Implyingly, the Scarborough shoal belongs to the Phil as it is within its continental shelf boundary.)
Definition of the continental shelf
1. The continental shelf of a coastal State comprises the sea-bed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance.
(Thus appropriately, Phil’s should be sovereign rights over it must be exclusive.)
Rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf
1. The coastal State exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.
2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 are exclusive in the sense that if the coastal State does not explore the continental shelf or exploit its natural resources, no one may undertake these activities without the express consent of the coastal State.
3. The rights of the coastal State over the continental shelf do not depend on occupation, effective or notional, or on any express proclamation.
4. The natural resources referred to in this Part consist of the mineral and other non-living resources of the sea-bed and subsoil together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms which, at the harvestable stage, either are immobile on or under the sea-bed or are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the sea-bed or the subsoil.
(China on the other hand has no similar basis as such for its claim but only reliant on historical claims. And as the Department of Foreign Affairs position paper implied as quoting public international laws, it lacked the necessary requirements to substantiate territorial acquisition.
China has not legal back-up whereas on the contrary, Phil bears all territorial rights as sanctioned by the UNCLOS Treaty.
Diplomacy as a mode of resolution to the Scarborough dispute is irresolubly, a futile act if within China’s own terms. It would probably drags on to eons if without the intervention of international tribunals. Firstly bec there is evident mutual adherence of the two countries firmly to its claims. Secondly, China is not honoring implyingly the UNCLOS treaty regarding territorial rights. It is seemingly and significantly China’s statement of no concession of its territorial prospect thus all China seem to want is talk, talk, talk, and that is diplomacy on its own prescription. It has avoided an international tribunal, the ITLOS which recently is one of the provisionary measure to settle maritime dispute as both China and Phil ratified being signatories of the UNCLOS treaty which obviously and decisively would be disadvantageous to China thus perhaps, China’s diplomatic terms, a diplomatic bilateral talk.
Phil basis for sovereign possession has all the weight, on the contrary, China lacked essential merit of its historical basis. Is it indeed that China is open for resolution, but avoiding premier arbitration apparently gives off this message: WE WILL NOT GIVE AWAY HUANGYAN!