- The UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration has delivered a judgement over the dispute between China and the Philippines over questions of sovereignty in the South China Sea.
- The judgement was a stinging rebuke to China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea, hemmed in by the so-called nine-dash line
- China rubbished the ruling, calling it ‘null and void’, even questioning the credibility of the Hague Court. It also said it could reciprocate with an Air Defence Identification Zone over the sea.
- While the court’s ruling is binding, it can’t be enforced, and China has said it won’t abide by it. However, it has called for talks with a new government in Manila.
- Yet, others in the dispute— Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei—could be emboldened.
The claims and counter-claims of sovereignty by China and five other Southeastern nations over the resource-rich island chains and waters in the South China Sea has been simmering for several years. But a ruling this week by the UN-approved Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, dismissing much of China’s expansive claims on the sea, could turn this flashpoint into a conflict, with consequences far beyond the region.