Re: Scarborough Reef
I also did some sleuthing on the addition of Scarborough Reef.
As far as I can tell it was added in 1996 and was added to the list based on the then DXCC List Criteria Section II, Point 2(a) (Separation by Water) (see here https://n4gn.com/sr95/arld005.html ). I then found (what I think were) the criteria at the time here: https://www.qsl.net/ds1doa/dxccrule.html .
Rule 2a said:
Point 2, SEPARATION BY WATER
An island or a group of islands which is part of a DXCC country
established by reason of Government, Point 1, is considered as a
separate DXCC country under the following conditions:
(a) The island or islands are situated off shore,
geographically separated by a minimum of 225 miles of open water
from a continent, another island or group of islands that make up
any part of the "parent" DXCC country.
There is no defintion of "island" in those criteria and I suspect the addition of Scarborough was the reason an island defintion was added in 1998. (see the 1998 criteria here and the announcement noting their adoption https://www.qsl.net/yt1dz/newdxcc.htm ) The "island" definition reads
Island: A naturally formed area of land surrounded by water, the surface of
which is above water at high tide. For the purposes of this award, it must
consist of connected land, of which at least two surface points must be
separated from each other by not less than 100 meters measured in a
straight line from point to point. All of the connected land must be above
the high tide mark, as demonstrated on a chart of sufficient scale. For the
purposes of this award, any island, reef, or rocks of less than this size
shall not be considered in the application of the water separation criteria
described in Part 2 of the criteria.
The current DXCC list criteria say this:
3. Special Areas
The Special Areas listed here may not be divided into additional Entities under the DXCC Rules. None of these constitute a Parent Entity, and none creates a precedent for the addition of similar or additional Entities...
... e) Entities on the 1998 DXCC List that do not qualify under the current criteria remain as long as they retain the status under which they were originally added. A change in that status will result in a review in accordance with Rule 5 of this Section.
5. Deletion Criteria
a) An Entity may be deleted from the List if it no longer satisfies the criteria under which it was added. However, if the Entity continues to meet one or more currently existing rules, it will remain on the List...
...c) A change in the DXCC Criteria shall not affect the status of any Entity on the DXCC List at the time of the change. In other words, criteria changes will not be applied retroactively to Entities on the List.
So assuming Scarborough doesn't meet the "island" definition, it still gets to stay on the list, i.e. under 3(e) it doesn't meet the current criteria but it doesn't qualify for deletion in section 5 as it is grandfathered under 5(c) and it still meets the old rule 2a criteria so can't be deleted under 5a). That is unlikely to change - unless the rules are changed or the ARRL Board votes to overrule its previous decision.
Saying that its eligibility could get really interesting if the Chinese built a base there which covered the rocks. The current definition says an island is a naturally formed area so you could argue that characteristic would be lost and so not meet that definition. Would the ARRL accept what would effectively have become an artificial island as an island under the 1998 rules? If not then Scarborough would have to be deleted.