On 29 October 2015, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, constituted to adjudicate on the claims of Philippines in South China Sea, decided that the country was well within its rights in filing the case. Ignoring the clear provisions of Article 288(4) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China rejected the verdict. But it still chose to haphazardly assert its perceived rights under UNCLOS to justify its stance.1 It seems China is grappling with ways to fit in the modern international law, which is rooted in Westphalian conceptions, without appearing to compromise its long-held sceptical views on international law—it has held such views since People’s Republic of China (PRC) came into existence in 1949.
Contrastingly, China has always held that international law is an instrument to further a nation state’s foreign policy—that international law is to be in service of a state’s interests. It has sought to use it to buttress its “peaceful rise” narrative. China’s approach, given its unitary set-up and lack of separation of powers, is entirely dictated by its central executive and is always in consonance with its foreign policy. It is the interplay of these two strands of thinking that prompts its selective rejection and parochial interpretation of international law, a grand departure from its approach till 1978.
Read more at: http://www.epw.in/journal/2016/7/commentary/assertions-south-china-sea.html#sthash.sKkZCSzd.dpuf