JEAIL > Volume 6(2); 2013 > Regional Focus & Controversies
Research Paper
Published online: November 30, 2013

Legal Basis of China's Claim over the Huangyan Island

Ran Guo
East China Normal University, China.
School of Foreign Languages, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China, 200062.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Official Announcements of China and the Philippines have clarified their claims over the Huangyan Island, which has compartmentalized its history into three periods. Period I: Before 1946. China had acquired its title by discovery of terra nullius, and consolidated into a full title with the historical consolidation process. The Philippines made no claims in this period; instead its laws confirmed the Island lies out of its territory. Period II: 1946-1997. The Philippine evidences are private in nature, or contradictory to its laws and governmental position, thus making its claims vulnerable. China had exercised an open and peaceful effective occupation over the Island with superior evidences. Period III: After 1997. According to the ICJ judgment, April 30, 1997 was tentatively determined the critical date. Since China acquired its territorial sovereignty over the Island before the critical date, the Philippines' acts can't alter China's ownership of the Island.

Keywords : The Huangyan Island, Territorial Acquisition, Critical Date, Inter-temporal International Law

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