Friday, October 30, 2015

Manila's shortsightedness in seeking arbitration over South China Sea disputes

The latest ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague regarding South China Sea seemed to be a positive result for Manila, but in a sense it also reflects Philippines' role as a fickle player on the world stage and its lack of vision in handling such disputes.

Despite its agreement with Beijing to resolve their disputes in South China Sea via bilateral talks, which could be testified by several joint statements and declarations, Manila readily reneges on its promises and takes every chance to make waves in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, the Philippines staged a string of stunts to generate publicity and rake up support for its South China Sea claim, at the cost of Manila-Beijing ties and regional stability.

Manila's bag of tricks includes baselessly accusing China of "bullying" in the area, shamefully disseminating such unwarranted allegations, and tirelessly courting external powers for patronage.

Such unconstructive moves, also epitomized by Manila's stubborn arbitration request, ran against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), in which relevant parties, including the Philippines, promise to exercise self-restraint and refrain from complicating the matter.

It is worth noting that Manila's arbitration request over the South China Sea, though partially accepted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration,does not hold water since the case basically revolves around the territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea under which Manila initiated the arbitration.

  • China has made it clear it will not accept nor get involved in these proceedings initiated unilaterally by the Philippines.

By disregarding China's opposition and taking the case to an international tribunal, Manila's publicity machination is eroding mutual trust between Manila and Beijing, which has been sinking to a historic low following a raft of provocations on the Philippine side.

Having long been exercising restraint in the face of Manila's various provocations, China is resolutely determined that the South China Sea disputes be resolved through talks between rival claimants, and that practice has been widely adopted in resolving territorial disputes.

It is in Manila's best interest not to drift further away from the path of bilateral negotiations, the most viable way to find a mutually-accepted, permanent solution to its disputes with Beijing on the South China Sea.

 Xinhua -


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