On July 12, 2016 the International Court of Justice in The Hague announced a highly anticipated verdict in the arbitration case between the Philippines and China. The case filed by the Philippines in 2013, focused on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea; particularly, the status of the disputed Spratly Islands. The tribunal ruled against Chinese claims to rights in the South China Sea.
Just days before the court ruling, the Chinese Navy held military drills in the area of the Paracel Islands, located in the northern part of the South China Sea. The Paracels are controlled by China but the territory is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. Although the Paracels were not included in the arbitration, the verdict puts into question all Chinese territorial claims in the area.