The government of the Philippines argues in the South China Sea arbitration case that all features in the Spratly archipelago are incapable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own. Even the largest feature in the Spratlys, that is, Taiping Island (Itu Aba), is a “rock” and accordingly, cannot generate maritime entitlement to a 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (eez) under unclos.
Is Taiping Island an “island” or a “rock” under the unclos? Is Taiping Island capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of its own? Is Taiping Island entitled to generate a 200-nm eez or a continental shelf? The purpose of this article is to answer these questions from the perspective of Taiwan. It is Taiwan’s position that Taiping Island is “a full-fledged island” and therefore can generate a 200-nm eez in accordance with Article 121 of unclos.
Treaty of Peace with Japan, Sept. 8,1951, 1356u.n.t.s. 45, available athttp://www.taiwandocuments.org/sanfrancisco01.htm (last visited July 25, 2015). Neither the Republic of China (“roc”) nor the People’s Republic of China (“prc”) was invited to the San Francisco Peace Conference, and neither was a party to the San Francisco Treaty. The Republic of China concluded a separate Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1952.