World

Philippines asks tribunal to declare invalid China's claims to much of South China Sea

  • Protesters display placards during a rally near the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China's claims of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The rally coincided with the oral arguments scheduled Tuesday before the Arbitral Tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands. The disputed islands known as the Spratlys Group of islands is claimed by China, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The message on the mask reads: "China hands off!" (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Protesters display placards during a rally near the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China's claims of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The rally coincided with the oral arguments scheduled Tuesday before the Arbitral Tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands. The disputed islands known as the Spratlys Group of islands is claimed by China, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The message on the mask reads: "China hands off!" (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters display placards during a rally near the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China's claims of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The rally coincided with the oral arguments scheduled Tuesday before the Arbitral Tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands. The disputed islands known as the Spratlys Group of islands is claimed by China, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Protesters display placards during a rally near the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, July 7, 2015 on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China's claims of the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The rally coincided with the oral arguments scheduled Tuesday before the Arbitral Tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands. The disputed islands known as the Spratlys Group of islands is claimed by China, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

The Philippines has asked an international tribunal to declare as invalid China's claims to virtually all of the South China Sea, saying Beijing's actions have trampled other nations' rights and irreversibly damaged coral reefs.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told the tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday that China's strategy was to gradually take control of the sprawling waters without sparking a crisis. Philippine officials provided his statement to journalists in Manila on Wednesday.

The tribunal opened hearings to address China's contention that the arbitration body does not have authority to assume jurisdiction over the Philippine complaints. China claims the seas on historical grounds and wants one-on-one negotiations instead of arbitration.

Countries territorially at odds with China — Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia — were among those sending observers to the hearings.