News / Asia

    China Likely to Ignore Philippines' Challenge in South China Sea

    Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario has asked an international tribunal to intervene in its long-standing South China Sea territorial dispute with China, January 22, 2013.
    Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario has asked an international tribunal to intervene in its long-standing South China Sea territorial dispute with China, January 22, 2013.
    Analysts say China will likely ignore the Philippines' decision to take a long-running territorial feud to an international tribunal, continuing its insistence on solving maritime disputes without third party involvement.

    Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said Tuesday his government will take the issue to an arbitral tribunal under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which has been ratified by both countries.

    The Philippines wants the panel to reject China's claims to nearly the entire South China Sea. It is also challenging what it says is China's "illegal" activity around reefs and rocks it says are part of Manila's exclusive economic zone under the U.N. convention.

    Most observers say China will almost certainly not agree to participate in the panel, in keeping with its long-standing policy of solving territorial disputes through direct negotiations.

    Carl Thayer of Australia's University of New South Wales tells VOA the tribunal may be able to move forward without Chinese participation. He says the Philippines hopes a favorable decision would give it a moral victory.

    "It's [a case] that not only has the legal side, but also has a strong moral suasion. If the tribunal ruled even partly in the Philippines' favor, it would deflate China's claims and give more legality and international cover to the Philippines."

    But Thayer says the court's decision, though technically "binding," could easily be ignored by China, since there is no mechanism included to enforce any possible ruling.

    Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert, acknowledges China's refusal to participate in the tribunal "probably won't be a great public relations success." But he tells VOA that may be exactly what the Philippines government is aiming for.

    "I see it in many ways as a bold gesture by the Philippines, hoping that China will respond negatively," says Bateman, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, who described the move as Manila's "attempt to take the high ground."

    "If China were to choose to opt out [of the tribunal], of course this would lead to another round of perhaps international condemnation, you know another example of China's assertiveness and lack of preparedness to operate, and those sort of things."

    But Bateman says all countries, including China, have the right under UNCLOS to opt out of arbitration that involves binding decisions on issues related to maritime boundaries and sovereignty disputes.

    That appears to be the route chosen by Beijing. On Tuesday, the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines reasserted China's "indisputable sovereignty" over waters in the South China Sea, saying China supports a negotiated settlement "through peaceful means."

    In any case, most analysts agree that the competing claims of China and the Philippines are unlikely to be resolved soon, and that the case will take three to four years to work through the international tribunal.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: Walter Ziobro
    January 23, 2013 11:29 AM
    The Chinese choosing to ignore arbitration would be tacit admission that their claims are not in conformity with current international maritime law.
    In Response

    by: Peter from: USA
    January 27, 2013 12:22 AM
    The article had just written that all signatories in UNCLOS, including China, have the right to opt out of binding tribunals on territory claims. Since opt out is a right, no such tacit admission can be applied logically. Emotionally you want to but emotion doesn't mean is not really legal
    In Response

    by: Dawn Dare from: Singapore
    January 26, 2013 12:15 PM
    @Gravur > China was never an independent country when it was colonized by the Mongolians. Zheng He was reporting to a Mongolian emperor. Tell us about your imagined story of "Chinese independence".
    In Response

    by: SEATO
    January 23, 2013 2:48 PM
    The Spratlys and the Paracels were under Vietnamese administration until Vietnam became a French protectorate in 1880.France then administered these territories on behalf of the Vietnamese until their departure from Vietnam in 1954 when these islands reverted back to South Vietnamese control.The Chinese nationalists only drew up the map for claiming these islands in 1930s.The PRC moved to seize the western half of the Paracels from South Vietnam in 1956 and the eastern half in 1974.Chinese territories reached as far as Hainan island.China should be reasonable and act with restraint and respect their neighbours' territorial integrity.Any threatened use of force to assert your sovereignty,would not change those facts.Japan,the Philippines and Vietnam are not going to sit back and let China walk all over them.I am sickened by the Chinese claim that they are a peace-loving nation and all the present troubles were started by their neighbours.Don't tell me Inner Mongolia belonged to China donkey years ago.China's acts of aggression have pushed their neighbours' tolerance to the limit,the shame is the UN is partly under China's control,so the Philippines's claim would probably fall into deaf ears.The way forward is to unite together against Chinese tyranny
    In Response

    by: Gravur
    January 23, 2013 12:35 PM
    The philippines was never an independent country before it was colonized by Spain and the United States, both of which never cobtrolled the spratly islands.

    The entire spratly islands were claimed and controlled by the Republic of China (Taiwan) before the Philippines and Vitnam ever lodged their claims, which came out of thin air with no justification other than the proximity of the islands to their countries. And if we go by proximity, Great Britain must surrender its uninhabited south georgia island to Argentina.

    It is the Philippines and Vietnam whose claims is not legitimate. The spratly islands go either to China or Taiwan.

    by: UNCLOS Expert? from: US
    January 23, 2013 11:24 AM
    "Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert" should read the declarations and statements made by both Philippines and China when ratifying the UNCLOS.
    In Response

    by: Peter from: USA
    January 27, 2013 12:25 AM
    Dawn, that was 600 years ago and it wasn't a criminal offense back then. get your timeline straight first. Philippine islands back then were compose of many kingdoms in which some were protectorate of Ming dynasy of China.
    In Response

    by: Dawn Dare from: Singapore
    January 26, 2013 12:18 PM
    @cheng hu "Protection" is an old racket considered a criminal offense. Why would the Philippines need protection?
    In Response

    by: cheng hu from: hainam city
    January 24, 2013 8:45 PM
    China was in the South East Asia region protecting the people of Sulu, Acheh and the Straits of Malacca through admiral Cheng Ho 600 hundred years ago before the existence of the Philippines.

    Chinese navy was all powerful and collecting taxes and spices from the people of the South China Seas because the whole of South China Sea belongs to China.

    The Filippinos think they can grab any land belongs to the Chinese at their whims and fancies.

    The Philippines is lucky for their existence if not China is a civilized country for labelling South China Sea at their hallucianation!

    There is the whole of East Philippine seas for them to grab and develope yet they want to fool around with China.

    Sigh! Coryzon Aquino must be turning in her grave for having such an incompetent and nincompoop son!
    In Response

    by: Danidanado from: Philippines
    January 24, 2013 8:17 PM
    Well said Santi! While China did make some unilateral amendments to it's own version of UNCLOS, it doesn't matter. The Treaty was signed so it should be Honored. Why hasn't China Honored the Treaty? Could it be that China has no Honor and therefore cannot be Trusted? I wonder....
    In Response

    by: Santi
    January 23, 2013 3:47 PM
    Check out the European maps of the 1600's. You'll see that Spratlys and Scarborough shoal was part of the Philippines. Even the Republic of Venice acknowledges it. For almost a hundred years Scarborough was a mere gunnery range by the Americans and now it is part of China? Since when? 2009 when they found out there is gas? Historically none of those were part of China. It was part of the Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah. China never came down that far because they'll have their head cut off. Don't change the history. Wiki leaks just busted your big lie.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora