The International Law Issues Concerning HUANYUAN Island (Scarborough Shoal)
Author：Yann-Huei Song, Research Fellow
Origin of Topic
On April 10, 2012, the government of the Philippines deployed a navy vessel (BRP Gregorio del Pilar) – recently acquired from the US Navy – to waters surrounding Huangyan Island in the east of the South China Sea: an area included in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Ocean surveillance ships and fishery administration ships of the PRC hindered the Philippines’ naval vessel from intercepting PRC “cross-border” fishing boats and fishermen. This incident initiated a standoff between the PRC and the Philippines that lasted over two months in the waters near the Huangyan Island.
During the standoff, the governments of the PRC and the Philippines frequently engaged on various political, diplomatic, legal, psychological, and economic battlefields. The Philippines suggested that this dispute should not only be presented to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and settled through legal means, but repeatedly requested US support in the matter. However, the US remarked that on the controversial issues of territorial sovereignty, it will not take sides, but will appeal to all parties concerned to resolve the issue through diplomatic means.
In view of the complexity and sensitivity of the controversies in the South China Sea, including such issues as territorial sovereignty over the Huangyan Island, Taiwan shall continue to reassert and reaffirm its sovereignty over specific islands. Also, Taiwan shall actively investigate the possibility of reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution to issues involving Huangyan Island, at the earliest possible time.(......more)