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Who Truly Owns Scarborough Shoal or Huangyan Dao?

The Dispute Should Be Resolved By The Republic of the Philippines And Peoples Republic
of China In The Name of Asian Amity And Brotherhood, And U.S.A. Has Nothing To Do
With It
Scarborough Shoal or Scarborough Reef (Chinese name: Huangyan Island, pinyin:
Hungyn Do; Philippine name: Panatag Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc), more correctly
described as a group of islands and reefs in an atoll shape than a shoal, is located between
the Macclesfield Bank(Zhongsha Islands) and Luzon Island of Philippines in the South
China Sea. To the east, the 5,000 - 6,000 meter deep Manila Trench separates the shoal
from Philippine Archipelago. As with most of the landforms in this sea, the sovereignty of
the area is disputed. After the Chinese Civil War, the People's Republic of China and the
Republic of China (Taiwan) both lay claim to the shoal. Starting in 1997, Philippines joined
in this dispute, making its claim to the shoal.
The shoal was named after a tea-trade ship Scarborough which was wrecked on the rock
with everyone perishing on board in the late 18th century.
The shoal forms a triangle-shaped chain of reefs and islands (but mostly rocks) 55
kilometres (34 mi) around with an of area 150 square kilometers. It has a lagoon with area
of 130 km and depth of about 15 meters (49 ft). The shoal is a protrusion from a 3,500 m
deep abyssal plain. Several of the 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. It is about 123 miles (198 km) west of Subic Bay. The
nearest landmass is Palauig, Zambales, on Luzon Island in the Philippines, 137 miles (220
km) away.
The shoal and its surrounding area are rich fishing grounds. A significant number of
Chinese fishermen have been arrested by Philippine officials in this area, particularly
during 1998-2001. Most arrests were for alleged using illegal methods of fishing and
catching endangered and protected species.
There are thick layers of guano lying on the rocks in the area. Several Filipino-sponsored
and Chinese-sponsored diving excursions and amateur ham radio operations, DXpeditions
(1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007), have been carried out in the area.
Sovereignty Dispute
The People's Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan)
The People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) claim that the shoal
was first discovered and drawn in a map in the Yuan Dynasty as early as 1279 and was
historically used by Chinese fishermen. In 1279, Guo Shoujing, a Chinese astronomer,
performed surveying of the South China Sea, and the surveying point was reported to be
the Scarborough Shoal. In 1935, China regarded the shoal as part of the Zhongsha Islands.

In 1947, the shoal was given the name Minzhu Jiao. In 1983, it was renamed Huangyan
Island with Minzhu Jiao reserved as a second name. In 1956, China protested Philippine
remarks that South China Sea islands in close proximity to Philippine territory should
belong to the Philippines. China's Declaration 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, the
Nansha Islands and all other islands belonging to China which are separated from the
mainland and its coastal islands by the high seas.
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.
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.
The Philippine government has proposed taking the Panatag issue to the International
Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, but the Chinese government has rejected this, insisting on
bilateral discussions.
The Philippines
The Philippines 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. 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 Bay in
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. A small lighthouse was also built and
operated the same year. In 1992, the Philippine Navy rehabilitated the lighthouse and
reported it to the International Maritime Organization for publication in the List of Lights.
As of 2009, the military-maintained lighthouse is non-operational.
Several Official Philippines maps published by Spain and United States in 18th and 20th
century 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. During the 1900s Mapa General. Islas Filipinas,

Observatorio de Manila and US Coast and Geodetic Survey Map includes the Scarborough
Shoal named as "Baju De Masinloc". 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. Another topographic map drawn in 1820
shows the shoal, named there as "Bajo Scarburo", as a constituent part of Sambalez
(Zambales province).
The Scarborough Shoal is not included within the territorial lines defined in the Treaty of
Paris (1898) between the United States, Treaty of Washington (1900) between Spain and the
United States. Convention Between the United States and Great Britain (1930), 1935
Constitution of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 3046 "Act to Define the Baselines of the
Territorial Sea of the Philippines"(1961), 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, or Republic
(March 10, 2009). The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs asserts that the basis of
Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the rock features of Bajo de Masinloc is 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 consequence.
The Philippines bases its claim on its proximity and the principle of terra nullius, which
holds that it was previously unclaimed by a sovereign state, which is also applied by the
Philippines in its claims to the Spratly Islands. By virtue of the Presidential Decree No.
1599 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos on June 1978, the Philippines claims an
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the baselines from
which their territorial sea is measured. In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
enacted the Philippine Baselines Law of 2009 (RA 9522). The new law classifies the Spratly
Islands and the Scarborough Shoal as a regime of islands under the Republic of the
The Department of Foreign Affairs bases the Philippine claim on Scarborough Shoal citing
the Island of Palmas Case, where the sovereignty of the island was adjudged in favor of the
Netherlands because of effective jurisdiction and control, despite the historic claim of
Spain. The Philippines has exercised effective jurisdiction and effective occupation of the
shoal since its independence. It also explains that the Exclusive Economic Zone claim on
the waters around Scarborough is different from the sovereignty exercised by the
Philippines in the shoal.

Delmar T. Taclibon
The Spratly Deal: Facts & Figures, Phil. Star, March 10, 2008
Scarborough Reef: A new Flashpoint in Sino-Philippine Relations? IBRU Boundery and
Security Bulletin Summer, 1999.
Colonel Bayly (1896), Diary of Colonel Bayly, 12th Regiment, 1796 1830, Naval and
Military Press, p108.
Treaty of Peece Between United States and Spain, December 10, 1898, Avalon Project,
Avalon Law, Yale University
Treaty Between Spain and the United States of America for Cession of Outlaying Islands of
the Philippines, November 7, 1900
United States. Dept. of State; Charles Irving Bevans (1968). Treaties and Other
International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949. Dept. of State, U.S.
Govt. Print. Off.. pp. 473476.
1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Chan Robles Law Library
Republic Act No. 3046 (as amended by RA 5446) An Act Defining the Baselines of the
Territorial Sea of the Philippines, Chan Robles Law Library, June 17, 1961
1987 Philippine Constitution
An Act to Amend Certain Provisions of Republic Act No. 3046 (as amended by RA 5446, To
define the Archipelagic Baseline of the Philippines and for Other Purpose, March 10, 2009
Marcos Presidential Decree No. 1599 Establishing An Exclusive Economic Zone and for
other Purpose, June 11, 1978
Philippine Baseline Law of 2009 (March 11, 2009
Zhou, Keyuan, 2005, Law of the Sea in East Asia: Issues and Projects, pp62-64, ISBN 9780-415-35074-7