China falls into panic as the ruling’s coming (Part II and End)

05/07/2016
China’s dilemma in the case
The Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations is expected to issue a decision on Manila's case against Beijing's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea soon. China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims.
The Philippines is contesting China's claim to an area shown on its maps as a nine-dash line stretching deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, covering hundreds of disputed islands and reefs and encompassing a vital global trade route. The consensus among officials and analysts is that the ruling will go largely against Beijing.
Even though the Court’s ruling would be little more than symbolic, and even though there would be no way to enforce the Court’s ruling against China, and even though China has already said that it will ignore any ruling, and even though China has bitterly complained about and even threatened the Philippines for even going to the Court in the first place, it is clear that Chinese officials are close to a state of panic over a possible ruling against them.
China, which observers say is clearly worried, has meanwhile ramped up its public relations campaign ahead of release of the the tribunal's award. Despite pressure from Washington and elsewhere, China appears determined to avoid granting any hint of legitimacy to a process that might challenge its claim to ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea, including its islands, reefs, fish stocks and potentially rich reserves of oil and gas.
China’s cognitive dissonance is an extremely dangerous situation. China’s population apparently widely believes that China’s South China Sea claims are “indisputable.” This is already clearly wrong, and will be publicly proven wrong if, as expected, the Court rules against China. China has put forward “ironclad proof” in the form of evidence that’s at best delusional and at worst fabricated. And China’s rejection of UNCLOS is, in my opinion, not going to be widely supported, especially after China itself has cited UNCLOS when convenient.
There is no chance at all that Chinese officials will admit that they’ve been wrong, or that its population will change its opinions. China is already heavily militarizing the South China Sea, and is already attacking Vietnam’s and Philippines’ ship with its military. China will react to its cognitive dissonance by doubling down. At best, this will mean a great deal vitriolic anger on the part of Chinese officials. Eventually, it would mean an irreversible military action that will spiral into full-scale war.
The collateral cost, analysts say: harm to global efforts to resolve similar territorial disputes through legal means. By its actions, China is demonstrating that countries can reject such measures whenever they conflict with their interests. Even government-backed scholars such as Wu say that the case is a no-win situation for China.
"Whatever the result, this is a definite loss for China since we've been forced to assume a passive role," Wu said.
Regardless of China's arguments denying the panel's legality, it "will damage China's reputation and image," said Yun Sun, an expert on Chinese foreign policy at the U.S. Stimson Center think tank.
Philippine ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia predicted a diplomatic standoff if China ignores a negative decision.
"We will be pointing out that China is not following the rule of law," he said. "I don't think they want to be pictured as a rogue nation. So they will probably sit down with us and say, 'OK, can we settle this in a diplomatic manner?'"
Whatever the outcome, China's refusal to cooperate with the tribunal could harm efforts to promote international arbitration that have already been hamstrung by the occasional refusal of the United States and others to recognize the International Court of Justice and other institutions.
China's noncompliance is also damaging to UNCLOS itself, since it could discourage compliance with other features of the convention, particularly its establishment of 200-nautical mile (370-kilometer) exclusive economic zones, said James Kraska, a professor of oceans law and policy at the U.S. Naval War College.
       "The only way developing states have a stake in the system," Kraska said, "is if it is governed by the rule of law in which the law binds the strong states as well as the weak."./.
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All comments [ 7 ]


Deck Hero14 5/7/16 14:17

It is generally expected that the PCA will largely rule in favor of Manila. Most likely, Beijing will simply ignore the legal decision, as reiterated during this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue.

yobro yobro 5/7/16 14:20

Yes, China perhaps even may accelerate its ongoing militarization of the SCS to create further facts on the ground to include the eventual establishment of an air defense identification zone once they have the full means to enforce it.

MaskOf Zero 5/7/16 14:21

In the case of China, refusal to comply may have great reputational costs for a rising power seeking to become a world power.

Jane smartnic 5/7/16 14:22

Alternatively, Beijing may ignore the PCA’s ruling and just bide its time, at least until after the G-20 Summit slated to be held in Hangzhou, China this September.

LawrenceSamuels 5/7/16 14:23

It's so worrying that China’s land reclamation and militarization of the various geographic features have given it the capability and capacity to monitor and control much of the South China Sea.

Gentle Moon 5/7/16 14:24

Hence, while China occupies a position of regional advantage and strength, it must take care not to risk its advances by needless acts of aggression.

John Smith 5/7/16 14:26

Confronted with this, China will still opt to ignore the final arbitration decision despite incurring great reputational costs as a benevolent rising power respectful of international law.

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