3 myths about China and the South Sea tribunal verdict

(From The National Interest)

By Jared McKinneyNicholas Butts

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued its award on Tuesday in the case Philippines v. China. The tribunal ruled entirely in the Philippines’ favor. Ecstatic Washington, DC foreign-policy elites have since done nothing but revel. But their three most frequent claims—that China should submit to the decision, that the United States should pressure China to do so, and that by rejecting international law China is threatening international order—do not hold water. Instead, the United States has the China it deserves. Read on to exit their echo chamber.


Does China Have Any Way to Gracefully Submit to the Decision?

According to Sen. Marco Rubio’s post-ruling press release, “Beijing faces a choice: accept the tribunal’s ruling or through its response, rally the entire region against its provocative actions.” Is this actually China’s choice?

No. Accepting the ruling is not even an option for China, because to do so would surrender its claim to be a great power. Great powers don’t recognize the jurisdiction of others in respect to their vital interests. They don’t ask for permission to ensure their security. And they don’t surrender their basic territorial claims in response to being rapped on the shoulder.

Furthermore, accepting the ruling would create a precedent whereby any state in a dispute with China could internationalize the disagreement to get its way. There is already talk of Vietnam following in the Philippines’ footsteps; a favorable ruling in such a second case could essentially lock China out of the South China Sea in terms of resource exploitation and maritime administration. Read more

Categories: AT Opinion, China, Southeast Asia

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