Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Uh-oh! The Hague rules in favor of Philippines; China's Xi Jinping orders combat preparation ahead of ruling; What now?

South China Sea: Court rules in favor of Philippines over China


Woody Island in the Paracels island chain. Google Earth.

Hong Kong (CNN) - An international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime dispute Tuesday, concluding China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is likely to have lasting implications for the resource-rich hot spot, which sees $5 trillion worth of shipborne trade pass through each year.

"China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards," Xi said. China had boycotted the proceedings.

The tribunal concluded that China doesn't have the right to resources within its "nine-dash line," which extends hundreds of miles to the south and east of its island province of Hainan and covers some 90% of the disputed waters.

Viewed as a decisive win for the Philippines, the ruling could heighten friction in a region already bristling with tension, especially if it unleashes a defiant reaction from China.

The United States, which has been at odds with China over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, urged all parties "to avoid provocative statements and actions."



Xi Jinping orders combat preparation ahead of South China Sea ruling

Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly ordered the People's Liberation Army to prepare for combat.

This comes ahead of an international tribunal on Tuesday that's expected to issue an unfavorable ruling against China's claims over the South China Sea.

U.S.-based Boxun News said Tuesday that the instruction was given in case the United States takes provocative action in the waters once the ruling is made.

The U.S. and China have been expanding their military activities across the sea, stoking heavy tension between the two superpowers.

China controls roughly 90 percent of the South China Sea, a critical waterway that handles some five trillion U.S. dollars worth of trade every year.

The Philippines filed a suit to The Hague tribunal in 2013, accusing Beijing of seizing Scarborough Shoal, a fishing area that Manila claims is part of its exclusive economic zone.

It said China's extensive maritime claims don't conform to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which was ratified by both countries. Since then, the country has stacked up 15 claims against China's vast territorial expansion. China opposes the arbitration process.

It says it does not acknowledge the tribunal's jurisdiction, and will not accept its ruling. The Hague's ruling on Tuesday is binding but the court lacks powers of enforcement. -  Arirang News.



What's the U.S. role in all of this?

The United States is a major player in the region and has sent warships and military aircraft around the South China Sea, including near disputed reefs and shoals, citing international law and freedom of movement but triggering harsh warnings from China.

Washington takes no position on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea but has called for an immediate end to land reclamation.

President Barack Obama has urged a peaceful resolution to the dispute and while visiting Vietnam in May said that big nations shouldn't bully small ones.

But as China has been at pains to point out, the United States isn't among the 180 countries that have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea -- potentially undermining its clout on this issue.

"This decision can and should serve as a new opportunity to renew efforts to address maritime disputes peacefully," the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

What happens now?

Despite being considered a strong ruling against China, the decision offers no clues to what happens next.

The tribunal said it "lacked the jurisdiction to consider the implications of a stand-off" between the Chinese and Philippines military, specifically at Second Thomas Shoal, and said any resolution of the dispute was "excluded from compulsory settlement."

The tribunal hasn't ordered China to take any particular steps to remedy the situation, dismantle construction on the islands or provide reparations to the Philippines.

China's government issued a statement saying it is ready to resolve relevant disputes peacefully through negotiation "on the basis of respecting historical facts."

"Pending final settlement, China is also ready to make every effort with the states directly concerned to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature, including joint development in relevant maritime areas, in order to achieve win-win results and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea," the Chinese government statement said. - CNN

Aba, look!

Taiwan sends warship to South China Sea after ruling
A Taiwan-made Panshi ship participates in a military drill outside a naval base in Kaohsiung port, southern Taiwan, January 27, 2016. Reuters


TAIPEI - A Taiwanese warship set sail for the South China Sea on Wednesday "to defend Taiwan's maritime territory", a day after an international tribunal ruled China has no historic rights in the waterway and undermined Taipei's claims to islands there.

President Tsai Ing-wen rallied troops on the deck of the frigate, saying Taiwanese were determined to "defend their country's rights", before the warship headed for Taiwan-controlled Taiping island in the Spratly island chain from the southern city of Kaohsiung. - More on ABS-CBN




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