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Thread: Hague Announces Decision on South China Sea

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    Hague Announces Decision on South China Sea

    An international tribunal in The Hague decided that China's expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

    nytimes

    Tribunal Rejects Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea
    BEIJING — An international tribunal in The Hague delivered a sweeping rebuke on Tuesday of China’s behavior in the South China Sea, including its construction of artificial islands, and found that its expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

    The landmark case, brought by the Philippines, was seen as an important crossroads in China’s rise as a global power and in its rivalry with the United States, and it could force Beijing to reconsider its assertive tactics in the region or risk being labeled an international outlaw. It was the first time the Chinese government had been summoned before the international justice system.

    In its most significant finding, the tribunal rejected China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea. That could give the governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam more leverage in their own maritime disputes with Beijing.

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    Testing the Rule of Law in the South China Sea

    How China reacts to the sweeping legal defeat over its claims to the South China Sea will tell the world a lot about its approach to international law, the use — measured or otherwise — of its enormous power, and its global ambitions. So far, the signs are troubling. Beijing has defiantly rejected an international arbitration court’s jurisdiction over a case brought by the Philippines and insisted it will not accept Tuesday’s pathbreaking judgment.

    The unanimous ruling, by a five-judge tribunal in The Hague, was more favorable toward the Philippines and broader in scope than experts had predicted. It said that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China had no legal basis to claim historic rights over most of the waterway, which is rich in resources and carries $5 trillion in annual trade.

    The panel also faulted China for its aggressive attempts to establish sovereignty by shipping tons of dirt to transform small reefs and rocks into artificial islands with airstrips and other military structures. China’s neighbors fear that it intends to use these outposts to restrict navigation and the rights of others to fish and explore for oil and gas.

    The Philippines filed the case in 2013 after China took control of a reef known as Scarborough Shoal. The case accused Beijing of interfering with fishing, endangering ships and failing to protect marine life. Manila also asked the tribunal to reject China’s claims to sovereignty within a so-called nine-dash line that encompasses much of the South China Sea and appears on official Chinese maps.

    The judges ruled for the Philippines on most claims in its complaint: China had indeed violated international law by causing “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, endangering ships and interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration. Further, China had illegally built an artificial island on Mischief Reef, complete with a military airstrip, in waters belonging to the Philippines.

    The Law of the Sea treaty sets rules for establishing zones of control over the oceans based on distances to coastlines. In addition to China and the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan all claim parts of the South China Sea. The tribunal is authorized to deal with maritime disputes, not the underlying land claims to the islands, reefs and rocks that are also contested. The decision is the first international ruling on the disputed maritime issues in the South China Sea.

    There are serious concerns about what will happen next. The tribunal has no authority to enforce its ruling, and China, which boycotted the legal process, threatens to use force to protect the maritime interests the court has now declared illegal.

    What this means in practice is not clear. Given China’s stake in peaceful trade with the rest of the world, it would be foolish for President Xi Jinping to take provocative actions that could inflame regional tensions and conceivably lead to a military confrontation with its neighbors or the United States. Retaliatory measures — further island-building at Scarborough Shoal, for instance, or declaring an air defense zone over large portions of the South China Sea — would be risky.

    In fact, the ruling offers a fresh opportunity to address maritime disputes in a peaceful manner. China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, condemned Tuesday’s ruling but said Beijing remains open to negotiations. Nations in the region have often gone wobbly in the face of pressure from Beijing. At this critical moment, despite competing interests of their own, they need to join the Philippines in endorsing the tribunal decision and then proceed, if necessary, with their own arbitration cases.

    The United States, which is neutral on the various claims, can help ensure a peaceful, lawful path forward. The Obama administration has said that disputes should be resolved according to international law, a position it now reaffirms. It has built closer security relations with Asian nations and responded to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea with increased naval patrols. This combination of diplomacy and pressure is sound, but the hard part is getting the balance right.

    nytimes

    If the ruling cannot be enforced, what now?

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    Moot point. Chinese guns are there. Philipines guns are not. China owns the space ... until bigger USN guns arrive.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Moot point. Chinese guns are there. Philipines guns are not. China owns the space ... until bigger USN guns arrive.
    Even if USN guns arrive, China will say -
    In 1986, some noted, the United States ignored a ruling from the International Court of Justice that declared its mining of the harbors of Nicaragua to be illegal. Washington had not ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and it still has not.
    . Then what? Mutual Defense Treaty between the US-Philipines comes into play only when either is attacked by an external country. If China continues to forcefully occupy the island, there's little USN can do other than negotiate. $5 trillion in annual trade passes through the SCS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    How China reacts to the sweeping legal defeat over its claims to the South China Sea will tell the world a lot about its approach to international law, the use — measured or otherwise — of its enormous power, and its global ambitions.
    After registering its dissatisfaction with the ruling; and lining up the usual suspects to testify in print that everything China says is right, everything China does is righteous and everything China wants is reasonable; this ruling will be ignored until is it useful to raise it for some diplomatic point scoring.

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    there's a downside in the sense that prev analysis on when things in the SCS and ECS would go pear shaped was around 2025-2030 - so this has bought that tension forward 10 years

    I do wonder whether there are some hawk and dove issues going on internally - china militarily is not ready to fight and win a naval war and the view was that it would not be until 2025 when their navy was ready to fight a blue water war and had assets and redundancy to deploy to do so.

    it won't take much for this to go pear shaped

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    Seems like this wont really change much. Just some more media fodder. China isnt going anywhere and no one else is going to make them. This wont happen because China doesnt take drastic action, but slow and calculated steps towards what they want to accomplish. This is how they have gained so much control in the first place. They dont take any action that would bring legitmate military retaliation. So, in the meantime, China will colonize the islands thus creating the obligation to "protect its citizens" and "China".
    "We are all special cases." - Camus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squirrel View Post
    Seems like this wont really change much. Just some more media fodder. China isnt going anywhere and no one else is going to make them. This wont happen because China doesnt take drastic action, but slow and calculated steps towards what they want to accomplish. This is how they have gained so much control in the first place. They dont take any action that would bring legitmate military retaliation. So, in the meantime, China will colonize the islands thus creating the obligation to "protect its citizens" and "China".
    Like.

    But what bothers me is maritime security. If China colonizes 90% of the SCS, it would be a disaster.

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    Oracle,

    The other option is to arrange as many boats from the neighborhood as possible, including American and Japanese boats, RIGHT NOW and tell the PLAN boats to fuck off immediately. Else, what you have wrote will be a reality and by 2025 that pond will be a truly Chinese pond and there nothing anybody will be able to do, not even the USN. The moment of truth is now. Tibet comes to mind.
    And on the sixth day, God created the Field Artillery...

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    Blustering US a paper tiger in S.China Sea - Globaltimes

    After the illegally organized arbitration tribunal issued the award in the South China Sea arbitration Tuesday, the US voiced the strongest support for it. Spokespersons from both the US Department of State and the White House successively claimed that the award was legally binding. More politicians and congressmen from the House and Senate have also made fiercer remarks, demanding regular challenges to China's excessive maritime claims through naval and air patrols. Japan's stance is precisely the same as that of the US, as if they have discussed their lines.

    On the contrary, the Philippines' attitude is relatively mild. It described the award as a "milestone decision" and called for restraint. An old Chinese saying goes "The emperor doesn't worry but his eunuch does," meaning the outsider is more anxious than the player. In this case, Washington and Tokyo are the worrying eunuchs. But so far, there is no US rhetoric demanding the White House and Pentagon bludgeon China to suspend construction activities on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The calls for the use of force have only been heard when the US clamored to safeguard the "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea, which mirrors that the US hasn't made the determination to use the arbitration for a showdown with China in the waters.

    It should be noticed that the arbitration tribunal is not a permanent court for arbitration, but a temporary institution for the South China Sea case established against the spirit of international law. It also has nothing to do with the UN. Many Chinese scholars believe that after the final award, the issue will gradually cool down. If there are no big moves from Manila, Washington and Tokyo, the case will literally become nothing but a piece of paper.

    The new Philippine government has more than once showed its hope of resolving the disputes with China through peaceful negotiations. In fact, it has no strength to take risky measures. The US and Japan might want to encourage Manila to take a tougher stance against Beijing, yet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not necessarily willing to be their pawn.

    It seems that the US will have to go it alone if it wants to escalate tensions in the South China Sea. Japan wants to step in, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not have the nerve.

    It is possible that the White House might conduct more proactive actions more frequently under the name of freedom of navigation. It might try to sail its warships to get increasingly closer, or even exercises within 12 nautical miles of the islands claimed and constructed by China.

    China will never indulge the US military to do so. The People's Liberation Army should enhance its military deployment in the waters of the Nansha Islands and be fully prepared to counterattack if the US makes further provocations. Some say that the US is taking China's response over the arbitration award as a touchstone of Beijing's willingness to follow Washington's instruction to abide by international rules. For China, however, whether the US refrains from clashes and hostility in the waters will tell whether it respects China genuinely. We do not wish for any direct confrontation or friction between the military powers from the two countries. But if Washington insists on doing so, we will never flinch.

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    /\/\ CCP seems to have borrowed a spokesperson from Pakistan. Frothing unnecessarily from the mouth.
    Last edited by Oracle; 14 Jul 16, at 15:58.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deltacamelately View Post
    Oracle,

    The other option is to arrange as many boats from the neighborhood as possible, including American and Japanese boats, RIGHT NOW and tell the PLAN boats to fuck off immediately. Else, what you have wrote will be a reality and by 2025 that pond will be a truly Chinese pond and there nothing anybody will be able to do, not even the USN. The moment of truth is now. Tibet comes to mind.
    Tibet. 1/3 rd of Kashmir.

    USN is a must if the Chinese are to back off. The Obama administration is tied up in Middle-East and to an extent in Af-Pak, and I don't see a confrontation with China right now, plus Obama's Presidency is nearing its end. Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte is seen to be accommodating China, and the US can't start a fight if Philippines doesn't want it. This issue would weigh heavily on the next POTUS come November, and if China is successful in enticing Philippines, then maybe Vietnam would/should be propped up. Hanoi would not run away from a fight, and it would give US reasons to browbeat China into submission along with navies of interested parties in the SCS. Whatever the tactics, China should not control 90% of SCS and only US can stop them. Ofcourse, before it's too late.

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    Problem with international tribunal judgments is there is no proper enforcement backing up the judgments.

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