FACT CHECK Fact Sheet South China Sea: Waters of Contention

VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Six misconceptions about the Philippines’ arbitral award on the South China Sea

Six years after the Philippines’ victory in the arbitral tribunal against China regarding the South China Sea, mis- and disinformation about it continue to spread.

Within the South China Sea is the smaller West Philippine Sea, which covers the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines in the maritime area. In the area claimed by the country are high-tide features such as Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) and some large rocks in the Kalayaan Island Group, which is part of the Spratly Islands.

VERA Files Fact Check lists six of the most widespread false and misleading information about the arbitral award:


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Permanent Court of Arbitration, PCA Case Nº 2013-19 IN THE MATTER OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA ARBITRATION, July 12, 2016

Permanent Court of Arbitration, PRESS RELEASE, July 12, 2016

Department of Foreign Affairs, West Philippine Sea

Department of Foreign Affairs, Notification and Statement of Claim on West Philippine Sea

United Nations, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Montego Bay, 10 December 1982

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of the General Counsel, Ballast Water – Maritime Zones and Boundaries, Arbitral court not a UN agency, July 14, 2016

Dr. Melissa Loja and Atty. Romel Bagares, Personal Communication (Interview), July 7, 2022


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)