For those concerned by China’s aggressive expansion into the South China Sea, there is some very good news and some not so good news. The very good news is that an international tribunal in The Hague has overwhelmingly rejected Chinese claims to rights in the South China Sea, including the construction of artificial islands. The ruling also found that Chinese claims to sovereignty over the waters of the region had no legal basis.
The case against China had been brought by the Philippines in 2013, after China seized Scarborough Shoal. (See our previous post, Standoff in the South China Sea .) “It’s an overwhelming victory. We won on every significant point,” said the Philippines’ chief counsel in the case, Paul S. Reichler. “This is a remarkable victory for the Philippines.”
The not so good news is that while the ruling is is legally binding, there is no mechanism for enforcing it. China stated on Tuesday that it would not abide by it. “The award is invalid and has no binding force,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “China does not accept or recognize it.”