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Commentary: Time to end South China Sea arbitration farce

The South China Sea arbitration came to an end with an arbitral tribunal in The Hague issuing an award on Tuesday, but the verdict is null and void and only serves to complicate the situation in the region.

With obvious loopholes and deliberate proceedings circumventing regular arbitration rules, the tribunal undermines international law and sets a bad example for settling sovereign disputes.

China has reiterated its stance of non-participation in and non-acceptance of the arbitration. To fully respect international law and justice, China will never recognize the verdict and never be "forced" into accepting it.

The former Philippine government and the United States behind it have conspired for a long time to blackmail China regarding its historic rights to the South China Sea, but to do it through a tribunal that tramples on international justice goes too far.

For starters, Manila broke its own commitment made in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, which was signed between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to settle disputes through consultation and negotiation.

Without consulting with China over the means of dispute settlement, the former Philippine government unilaterally filed a compulsory arbitration against China in 2013.

Despite Manila's claim to seek a verdict over the status and maritime entitlements of relevant features in the Nansha Islands, the subject matter regards sovereignty and delimitation issues clearly beyond the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.

To make matters worse, some countries outside the region have been making waves to serve their own interests.

The United States has been attempting to "fish in troubled waters" while instigating the Philippines to act on the so-called legal front. Sending warships and warplanes and holding military maneuvers, the United States has spared no efforts to stir up the waters of the South China Sea with its so-called "Pivot to Asia" strategy.

Meanwhile, Japan is an accomplice that attempted to hijack the Group of Seven meeting in April with the South China Sea issue as part of its efforts to serve its audacious ambitions.

The arbitration has only escalated tensions in the region and by no means helps to solve the disputes. The undermining of international law and the repercussions of a law-abusing arbitration are even more worrying than the dispute itself.

The new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed the desire to engage in dialogue with China on the South China Sea issue, which is a welcomed sign.

Under the dual-track approach initially proposed by ASEAN, China and the Philippines could negotiate in line with international law and get bilateral ties back on track.

It's high time to put an end to this farce that has dragged on for too long.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 12Jul16]

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East China Sea Conflict
small logoThis document has been published on 13Jul16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.