An international tribunal rejected China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea in a landmark ruling Tuesday that also found the country had aggravated the seething regional dispute and violated the Philippines’ maritime rights by building up artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and by disrupting fishing and oil exploration. While the decision is seen as a major legal declaration regarding one of the world’s most contested regions, China immediately rejected it as a “farce” and the true impact is uncertain given the tribunal has no power of enforcement.
The disputes have also increased friction between China and the United States, which has ramped up its military presence in the region as China has expanded its navy’s reach farther offshore.
China, which boycotted the entire proceeding, reiterated that it does not accept the panel’s jurisdiction.
Manila brought the case to arbitration because China’s claims infringe upon its own 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
The tribunal said that any historical resource rights China may have had were wiped out if they are incompatible with exclusive economic zones established under the U.N. treaty, which both countries have signed.