Beijing launches charm offensive ahead of South China Sea court ruling


Beijing has launched a charm offensive to shore up its position in the South China Sea ahead of a key international court decision widely expected to rule against its claims to the disputed waters.

Over the past two weeks, China has seen successes in courting India, Russia, Pakistan, Belarus, Laos — and even Brunei, one of six claimants to areas of the South China Sea. Most have found common ground with Beijing in its opposition to “internationalizing” the South China Sea issue.

The case brought before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague by the Philippines contests the legality of Beijing’s “nine-dash line” claim to most of the South China Sea. China has refused to participate in the case and has vowed to ignore the ruling, which may come later this month or in early June.

A raft of statements urging China to adhere to the ruling — including one by Britain last month — and a fierce lobbying campaign in the region by the United States, have likely prompted the recent flurry of moves by Beijing.