The Hague: An international tribunal on Tuesday ruled against China's claims to rights in South China Sea, backing a case brought in by the Philippines. The Permanent Court of Arbitration said there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources, BBC reported. The case was brought to the tribunal by the Philippines in 2013. China described the ruling as "ill-founded", according to the BBC. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by others. The tribunal said China had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights and had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment" by building artificial islands, BBC noted. It also said China had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment" by building artificial islands. In a statement released immediately after the ruling, the Philippines government said it "strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing disputes in the South China Sea," CNN reported.