As if building man-made islets in the highly disputed island in South China Sea is not enough, the Chinese Government has announced its plan to establish an international maritime judicial center.
This monumental step by China amid the brewing tensions in the region was announced by its Supreme Court Chief Justice Zhou Qiang during the a meeting with the country’s parliament over the weekend, the ABC News reported. This is on top of the existing maritime courts in the country that adjudicated nearly 230,000 local maritime disputes in the country since it opened in 1984.
According to Qiang, this is part of China’s effort to implement its national strategy in making China a maritime power. The court’s main mandate is to protect China’s sovereignty and rights at sea.
“[We] must resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty, maritime rights and other core interests. [China would] improve the work of maritime courts and build an international maritime judicial center,” Qiang was quoted as saying by the ABC News.
It’s not clear whether what specific types of cases the court will handle or where it will be based, the report added. Other specific details about the international judicial center remained unavailable as of this writing.
Based on a separate report from the Standard, it was revealed that other than protecting the country’s sovereignty and rights at sea, part of the mandates of the planned international judicial system is also to protect other interests of the country.
This development came amid the on-going case filed by the Philippines before an international tribunal at The Hague. China has been vocal that it has no plans of participating with case that the Philippines has lodged since last year.
Apart from the Philippines, other countries in the region, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan have separate claims in the disputed territory.