The controversial South China Sea dispute will likely continue despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in favor of the Philippines. In an interview with the Xinhua news agency, representatives said China will “not accept or acknowledge” the ruling.
The ongoing dispute centers on China’s “nine-dash line,” which the country uses to mark their assumed territory in the South China Sea. Although China maintains a majority of the control within the “nine-dash line,” the Permanent Court of Arbitration determined the boundary violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — which China and the Philippines both signed.
The court also determined the country’s construction projects in the South China Sea, including the addition of artificial islands, “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment.”
As reported by Fox News, the Permanent Court of Arbitration further accused China of violating an agreement to refrain from aggravating the situation while the court deliberated on the case.
According to reports, China interfered with the Philippines’ business in the South China Sea by intentionally hindering fishing vessels and petroleum exploration.
Officials in China have argued that the country has historical rights to the territory within the “nine-dash line.” However, the court determined their participation in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea overrides any historical claim.
The South China Sea is rich in numerous resources, including fish, gas, and oil. It is also estimated that nearly “$5 million in global trade passes through” the region every year.
In response to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he has no intention of honoring the South China Sea treaty.
“China’s territorial sovereignty and marine rights in the South China Sea will not be affected by the so-called Philippines South China Sea ruling in any way.”
In stark contrast, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said officials in the Philippines are pleased with the ruling.
“The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea.”
Although decisions made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration are legally binding, they simply do not have the means to enforce the ruling. Therefore, it is unclear what, if any, impact the decision will have on either country.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 12, 2016
MSN reports China’s defense ministry has vowed to “unswervingly safeguard state sovereignty, security, maritime rights, and interests.” Other sources have suggested Naval “reservists in central Chinese provinces were called up for an unspecified mission from July 10-22.”
Foley Hoag LLP attorney Paul Reichler, who led the Philippines’ legal team, said the ruling is expected to benefit numerous countries throughout the region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which have also been involved in territorial disputes over portions of the South China Sea.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 12, 2016
On Saturday, Chinese vessels were accused of intentionally sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel traveling within the “nine-dash line.”
Although the ruling would settle some of the disputes, China has refused to honor the decision and their participation in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As it is unclear how the ruling will be enforced at this time, it is unlikely that China will comply.
The tribunal even admitted they simply do not have “the jurisdiction to consider the implications of a stand-off.” Therefore, they stopped short of ordering China to halt construction or make any reparations.
Unfortunately, as reported by CNN, the ruling may only serve to intensify the dispute. In response to the decision, United States officials have urged China and the Philippines “to avoid provocative statements and actions” in an attempt to quell any further disputes or acts of violence concerning territory in the South China Sea.
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