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China to set up maritime judicial centre
March 14, 2016, 5:27 am

China, which claims about 2 million square km of the maritime territory, has always maintained that “the situation in the South China Sea is stable [Xinhua]

China, which claims about 2 million square km of the maritime territory, has always maintained that “the situation in the South China Sea is stable [Xinhua]

China’s apex court will create an “international maritime judicial center” to help protect its sovereignty and rights at sea, China’s top judge said on Sunday.

In a work report at the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said this would help implement a national strategy to develop China into a “maritime power.”

“(We) must resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty, maritime rights and other core interests,” he said. “(We) must improve the work of maritime courts and build an international maritime judicial center.”

Details are awaited on the setting up of the center, its location or the kind of cases it would have jurisdiction over.

China’s Global Times quoted the judge as stating that some 16,000 maritime cases were heard by Chinese courts last year, the most in the world. The country is also home to the largest number of maritime courts in the world, he added.

Last month, ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed consternation about the increasing ‘war of words’ between Beijing and Washington over China’s presence in the South China Sea.

The South China Sea, which official Chinese data indicates is 3.55 million square km, is one of the world’s most strategically important waterways and is exceedingly rich with minerals.

China, which claims about 2 million square km of the maritime territory, has always maintained that “the situation in the South China Sea is stable. China and the countries of the [ASEAN] have kept a good-neighborly relationship”.

But Vietnam and the Philippines dispute China’s claim over the maritime region.

China claims it has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha (or Spratly) Islands and its adjacent waters according to the “nine-dash line” that it has delineated at the South China Sea, waters which carry around half of the world’s trade and possibly contains rich reserves of oil and gas.

On Chinese maps, the “nine-dash” territorial demarcation envelops virtually the entire South China Sea.

The Islands are off the coasts of Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Philippines, a major non-NATO ally of the US in the Pacific and an ASEAN member, had previously agreed to allow the United States access to its military bases under a new security deal.

The deal will allow the United States to increase deployment of American troops, ships and aircrafts in the region.

This aids US plans to “rebalance” its forces in Asia-Pacific region for the much-hyped Asia Pivot.

 

TBP

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