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as Scarborough
Reef,[1] Democracy
Reef (Chinese: ; pinyin: Mnzh Jio),Huangyan Island[2] (simplified
Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Hungyn Do), Bajo de
Masinloc[3] and Panatag Shoal[4] (Filipino: Kulumpol ng Panatag), is a shoal located
between the Macclesfield Bankand Luzon island in the South China Sea.
It is a disputed territory claimed by the People's Republic of China, Republic of China
(Taiwan), and the Philippines. The shoal's status is often discussed in conjunction
with other territorial disputes in the South China Sea such as those involving
the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. Since the 2012 Scarborough Shoal
standof, access to the territory has been restricted by the People's Republic of
The shoal was named after an East India Company tea-clipper which was wrecked
on one of its rocks on September 12, 1784
Scarborough Shoal forms a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and rocks with a
perimeter of 46 km (29 mi). It covers an area, including an inner lagoon, of
150 km2 (58 sq mi). The shoal's highest point, South Rock, measures 1.8 m (5.9 ft)
above water during high tide. Located north of it is a channel, approximately 370 m
(1,214 ft) wide and 911 m (3036 ft) deep, leading into the lagoon. Several other
coral rocks encircle the lagoon, forming a largeatoll.[1]
The shoal is about 198 kilometres (123 mi) west of Subic Bay. To the east of the
shoal is the 5,0006,000 m (16,00020,000 ft) deep Manila Trench. The nearest
landmass is Palauig, Zambales on Luzon island in the Philippines, 220 km (137 mi)
due east.
Activities in the surrounding area[
The shoal and its surrounding area are rich fishing grounds - the atoll's lagoon
provides some protection for fishing boats during inclement weather.
There are thick layers of guano lying on the rocks in the area. Several diving
excursions and amateur radio operations,DX-peditions (1994, 1995, 1997 and
2007), have been carried out in the area
Sovereignty dispute
The People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) claim that
Chinese people discovered the shoal centuries ago and that there is a long history
of Chinese fishing activity in the area. The shoal lies within the nine-dotted
line drawn by China on maps marking its claim to islands and relevant waters
consistent with UNCLOS within the South China Sea. [9] An article published in May
2012 in the PLA Daily states that Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing went to the
island in 1279, under the Yuan dynasty, as part of an empire-wide survey called
"Measurement of the Four Seas" ( ).[10] In 1979 historical geographer Han
Zhenhua ( ) was among the first scholars to claim that the point called
"Nanhai" (literally, "South Sea") in that astronomical survey referred to Scarborough
Shoal.[11] In 1980 during a conflict withVietnam for sovereignty over the Paracel

Islands (Xisha Islands), however, the Chinese government issued an official

document claiming that "Nanhai" in the 1279 survey was located in the Paracels.
Historical geographer Niu Zhongxun defended this view in several articles. [13] In
1990, a historian called Zeng Zhaoxuan ( ) argued instead that the Nanhai
measuring point was located in Central Vietnam. [14] Historian of astronomy Chen
Meidong ( ) and historian of Chinese science Nathan Sivin have since agreed
with Zeng's position in their respective books about Guo Shoujing. [15][16]
In 1935, China, as the Republic of China (ROC), regarded the shoal as part of
the Zhongsha Islands. That position has since been maintained by both the ROC,
which now governs Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China (PRC). [17] In 1947 the
shoal was given the name Minzhu Jiao (Chinese: ; literally: "Democracy Reef").
In 1983 the People's Republic of China renamed it Huangyan Island with Minzhu
Jiao reserved as a second name.[18] In 1956 Beijing protested Philippine remarks that
the South China Sea islands in close proximity to Philippine territory should belong
to the Philippines. China'sDeclaration on the territorial Sea, promulgated in 1958,
says in part,
The breadth of the Territorial Sea of the People's Republic of China shall be twelve
nautical miles. This applies to all territories of the People's Republic of China,
including the Chinese mainland and its coastal islands, as well as Taiwan and its
surrounding islands, the Penghu Islands, the Dongsha Islands, the Xisha Islands, the
Zhongsha Islands [italics added], the Nansha Islands and all other islands belonging
to China which are separated from the mainland and its coastal islands by the high
China reaffirmed its claim of sovereignty over the Zhongsha Islands in its 1992 Law
on the territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone. China claims all the islands, reefs,
and shoals within a U-shaped line in the South China Sea drawn in 1947 as its
territory. Scarborough shoal lies within this area. [19]
China further asserted its claim shortly after the departure of the US Navy force
from Subic, Zambales, Philippines. In the late 1970s, many scientific expedition
activities organized by State Bureau of Surveying, National Earthquake Bureau and
National Bureau of Oceanography were held in the shoal and around this area. In
1980, a stone marker reading "South China Sea Scientific Expedition" was installed
on the South Rock, but was removed by Philippines in 1997. [8]
Claim by the Philippines
The Philippines state that its assertion of sovereignty over the shoal is based on the
juridical criteria established by public international law on the lawful methods for
the acquisition
occupation, cession,prescription, conquest,
Philippine Department of Foreign Afairs (DFA) has asserted that the country
exercised both efective occupation and efective jurisdiction over the shoal, which
it terms Bajo de Masinloc, since itsindependence. Thus, it claims to have erected
flags in some islands and a lighthouse which it reported to the International
Maritime Organization. It also asserts that the Philippine and US Naval Forces have
used it as impact range and that its Department of Environment and Natural
Resources has conducted scientific, topographic and marine studies in the shoal,
while Filipino fishermen regularly use it as fishing ground and have always
considered it their own.[20]

The DFA also claims that the name Bajo de Masinloc (translated as "under
Masinloc") itself identifies the shoal as a particular political subdivision of the
Philippine Province of Zambales, known as Masinloc. [20] As basis, the Philippines
cites the Island of Palmas Case, where the sovereignty of the island was adjudged
by the international court in favor of the Netherlands because of its efective
jurisdiction and control over the island despite the historic claim of Spain. Thus, the
Philippines argues that the historic claim of China over the Scarborough Shoal still
needs to be substantiated by a historic title, since a claim by itself is not among the
internationally recognized legal basis for acquiring sovereignty over territory.
It also asserts that there is no indication that the international community has
acquiesced to China's historical claim, and that the activity of fishing of private
Chinese individuals, claimed to be a traditional exercise among these waters, does
not constitute a sovereign act of the Chinese state. [21]
The Philippine government argues that since the legal basis of its claim is based on
the international law on acquisition of sovereignty, the Exclusive Economic
Zone claim on the waters around Scarborough is diferent from the sovereignty
exercised by the Philippines in the shoal. [20][22]
The Philippine government has proposed taking the dispute to the International
Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) as provided in Part XV of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea, but the Chinese government has rejected this,
insisting on bilateral discussions.[23][24][25]
The Philippines also claims that as early as the Spanish colonization of the
Philippines, Filipino fishermen were already using the area as a traditional fishing
ground and shelter during bad weather. [26]
Several official Philippine maps published by Spain and United States in 18th and
20th centuries show Scarborough Shoal as Philippine territory. The 18th-century
map "Carta hydrographica y chorographica de las Islas Filipinas" (1734) shows the
Scarborough Shoal then was named as Panacot Shoal. The map also shows the
shape of the shoal as consistent with the current maps available as today. In 1792,
another map drawn by the Malaspina expedition and published in 1808 in Madrid,
Spain also showed Bajo de Masinloc as part of Philippine territory. The map showed
the route of the Malaspina expedition to and around the shoal. It was reproduced in
the Atlas of the 1939 Philippine Census, which was published in Manila a year later
and predates the controversial 1947 Chinese South China Sea Claim Map that shows
no Chinese name on it.[27] Another topographic map drawn in 1820 shows the shoal,
named there as "Bajo Scarburo," as a constituent part of Sambalez (Zambales
province).[28] During the 1900s, Mapa General, Islas Filipinas, Observatorio de
Manila, and US Coast and Geodetic Survey Map include the Scarborough Shoal
named as "Baju De Masinloc."[29] A map published in 1978 by the Philippine National
Mapping and Resource Information Authority, however, did not indicate Scarborough
Shoal as part of the Philippines.[30]
In 1957, the Philippine government conducted an oceanographic survey of the area
and together with the US Navy force based in then U.S. Naval Base Subic
Bayin Zambales, used the area as an impact range for defense purposes. An 8.3
meter high flag pole flying a Philippine flag was raised in 1965. An iron tower that
was to serve as a small lighthouse was also built and operated the same year. [31]
In 1992, the Philippine Navy rehabilitated the lighthouse and reported it to

theInternational Maritime Organization for publication in the List of Lights. As of

2009, the military-maintained lighthouse is non-operationa
The 1900 Treaty of Washington provided that any and all islands belonging to the
Philippine archipelago, lying outside the lines described in Article III of the Treaty of
Paris, were also ceded to the United States. This included Scarborough Shoal, which
is outside the Treaty of Paris treaty lines. In efect, the Treaty of Washington
amended the Treaty of Paris, so that the islands ceded by Spain to the U.S. included
islands within and outside the Treaty of Paris treaty lines, so long as Spain had title
or claim of title to the islands.
The DFA asserts that the basis of Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the
rock features of Bajo de Masinloc are not premised on the cession by Spain of the
Philippine archipelago to the United States under the Treaty of Paris, and argues
that the matter that the rock features of Bajo de Masinloc are not included or within
the limits of the Treaty of Paris as alleged by China is therefore immaterial and of no
President Ferdinand Marcos, by virtue of the Presidential Decree No. 1596 issued
on June 11, 1978 asserted that islands designated as the Kalayaan Island Group and
comprising most of the Spratly Islands are subject to the sovereignty of the
Philippines,[34] and by virtue of the Presidential Decree No. 1599 issued on June 11,
1978 claimed an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles (370 km)
from the baselines from which their territorial sea is measured. [35]
The Philippines' bilateral dispute with China over the shoal began on April 30, 1997
when Filipino naval ships prevented Chinese boats from approaching the shoal. [1] On
June 5 of that year, Domingo Siazon, who was then the Philippine Secretary of
Foreign Afairs, testified in front of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United
States Senate that the Shoal was "a new issue on overlapping claims between the
Philippines and China".[36]
In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo enacted the Philippine Baselines Law of
2009 (RA 9522). The new law classified the Kalayaan Island Group and the
Scarborough Shoal as a regime of islands under the Republic of the Philippines.[3][37]
UNCLOS 3[edit]
The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea III has been ratified by both
the Philippines and China. The following provisions from UNCLOS 3 are relevant to
the dispute;

Article 2 and 3: A country can only claim sovereignty

over its land and up to 12 nautical miles of sea
perpendicular to its coastline (base line)

Article 60: In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal

State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to
authorize and regulate the construction, operation and
use of artificial islands.

Article 56: In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal

State has sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring

and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural

resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters
superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its
subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the
economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such
as the production of energy from the water, currents and

Article 57: The exclusive economic zone shall not extend

beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which
the breadth of the territorial sea is measured

Article 121: Rocks which cannot sustain human

habitation or economic life of their own shall have no
exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, but they
do count for territorial claims, i.e. claims of up to 12
nautical miles of territorial waters.

Given that the shoal is not habitable and the historical claims are weak at best
China is currently violating article 56 of UNCLOS 3. [38] [39] by blocking access to the
lagoon to the Philippines.