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To no one's surprise, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has upheld all the key arguments of the Philippines in its case against China on the application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the South China Sea.The PCA ruled that China's "nine-dash line," a 1940s-era delineation that implies ownership by China of 80 percent of the South China Sea, is legally meaningless. Crucially, even if all of China's sovereignty claims in the South China Sea were one day accepted – whether through negotiation, arbitration or adjudication – the total area, including territorial sea, EEZs, and continental-shelf rights, would still not approach the size of the vast zone encompassed by the nine-dash line.In doing so, the PCA also made clear that China had no right whatsoever – at least in the case of the previously submerged Mischief Reef – to engage in any construction activity, as the territory it claims is within the Philippines' EEZ.
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