August 1, 2016
APIn this 2014 file photo, Philippine crewmen gesture towards a Chinese Coast Guard ship as they block them from entering Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.
As Southeast Asian nations continue to be split on the tribunal award, Beijing has demonstrated its will to power and determination to defend its interests in the teeth of opposition.
China sees the U.S. hand ubiquitous in the July 12 award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Scarborough Shoal dispute in the South China Sea— first in instigating the litigation by the Philippines, then in fanning the flames of discontent among the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and finally in securing its one-sided outcome. Chinese experts further allege that the five-member tribunal was tainted — selected by the President of the Court, Shunji Yanai, allegedly a right-wing, pro-Abe, and anti-Chinese national of Japan. China’s responses to the ruling might be the precursor to a new edition of a cold war.
The Court ruled that China’s claims over the waters enclosed by the ‘Nine-Dash Line’ had no legal basis under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), that China had no claim to historic rights to resources there, and that it had aggravated the dispute by building an artificial island on Mischief Reef, besides violating the Philippines’s sovereign rights within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including its fisheries and petroleum exploitation. Entitlement to islands and the EEZ, the Court further held, must be based on natural conditions, and not as the result of artificial augmentation by building and reclaiming land.