Ar­bi­tra­tion rul­ing will harm world or­der

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNACIONAL -

CWANG XIAOPENG HINA is de­fend­ing not only its ter­ri­to­rial sover eignty but also world peace and sta­bil­ity in its fight against the ar­bi­tra­tion uni­lat­er­ally ini­ti­ated by the Philip­pines on the South China Sea is­sue.

The Hague-based Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion, which ac­cepted Manila’s uni­lat­eral case against Bei­jing, said on Wed­nes­day that it would is­sue a rul­ing on July 12.

Since Jan­uary 22, 2013, when Manila ini­ti­ated the ar­bi­tra­tion, Bei­jing has been re­it­er­at­ing that it will nei­ther par­tic­i­pate in the ar­bi­tra­tion nor ac­cept its rul­ing. So by act­ing with dis­dain for China’s con­cerns, the ar­bi­tra­tion court risks open­ing a Pan­dora’s box in the South China Sea, which could have dan­ger­ous con­se­quences.

From the very be­gin­ning, the ar­bi­tral tri­bunal, set up on the ba­sis of the Philip­pines’ il­le­gal ac­tions and claims, has had no ju­ris­dic­tion over the is­sue.

The tri­bunal dis­re­spects the fact that Bei­jing and Manila have agreed to set­tle their dis­pute in the South China Sea through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tion and that the ar­bi­tra­tion pro­ceed­ings un­der the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea do not ap­ply to the mar­itime dis­pute be­tween the two sides.

Since the Philip­pines’ re­quest is es­sen­tially about ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty and mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion, the ar­bi­tral tri­bunal has also turned a blind eye to the dec­la­ra­tion made by China in 2006 on op­tional ex­cep­tions in ac­cor­dance with UNCLOS, which ex­cludes, among oth­ers, dis­putes over mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion from ar­bi­tra­tion and other com­pul­sory dis­pute set­tle­ment pro­ce­dures. Some 30 coun­tries have made sim­i­lar dec­la­ra­tions.

There­fore, the tri­bunal has vi­o­lated UNCLOS, too, and ex­panded its ju­ris­dic­tion and abused its power by hear­ing Manila’s case. No mat­ter what the court rul­ing is, it will be il­le­gal.

By un­wisely pro­ceed­ing with the Philip­pines’ case, which breaches in­ter­na­tional law, the tri­bunal has not only helped es­ca­late ten­sions be­tween Bei­jing and Manila, but also un­der­mined re­gional sta­bil­ity and the in­ter­na­tional mar­itime or­der.

China’s stance of nei­ther par­tic­i­pat­ing in nor ac­cept­ing the re­sults of the ar­bi­tra­tion does not mean it cares a hoot about in­ter­na­tional law, in­stead it shows China’s com­mit­ment to up­hold­ing its rights vested in it by the world or­der.

The role in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions play in safe­guard­ing the world or­der can never be un­der­es­ti­mated. Since the end of World War II, they have contributed to the rel­a­tively sta­ble in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions de­spite the changes in the global bal­ance of power, and helped the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity for­mu­late hun­dreds of treaties to reg­u­late coun­tries’ be­hav­iors. In fact, with­out these con­ven­tions, the cur­rent world or­der would be threat­ened.

But when such con­ven­tions are mis­used by non­rel­e­vant coun­tries, as has hap­pened in Manila’s ar­bi­tra­tion case, they have to be coun­tered. The United States, a coun­try from out­side the re­gion, has been trum­pet­ing the im­por­tance of the rule of law in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions even though it has not signed the UNCLOS. And by sup­port­ing the Philip­pines and the tri­bunal, the US has only ex­posed its hypocrisy.

For the US, vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions can be called acts of strat­egy, be­cause it has been mil­i­ta­riz­ing the South China Sea with the in­creas­ing pres­ence of its de­fense forces in the name of op­pos­ing the “mil­i­ta­riza­tion” of the wa­ters and the re­gion.

With re­gard to ter­ri­to­rial is­sues and mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion dis­putes, China does not ac­cept any third­party in­ter­ven­tion or any im­posed so­lu­tion. Bei­jing will con­tinue to be a re­spon­si­ble player and con­trib­u­tor within the es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional or­der, up­hold­ing in­ter­na­tional law and ba­sic norms gov­ern­ing in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions as en­shrined in the Char­ter of the United Na­tions. It will also con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate and work with states di­rectly to re­solve bi­lat­eral dis­putes in the South China Sea.

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