How China can benefit from the S. China Sea arbitration


As we get closer to the decision in the arbitration on the South China Sea, we hear numerous arguments from all sides, including the article by Ambassador Xie Feng in The Jakarta Post on June 8. Now, it is important to view the arbitration from an objective standpoint.

First, regarding the formation of the arbitration, it is indeed the case that the Philippines initiated the arbitration unilaterally.

However there is no stipulation within UNCLOS that bans a country from unilaterally launching arbitration. For instance Malaysia did so in the case of land reclamation filed against Singapore.

China declined to participate from the beginning, which other countries must respect as this is perfectly legal under international law, especially UNCLOS.

In the same vein, the non-participation by China does not prevent the arbitration from proceeding. It is also within the framework of international law that the arbitration can render its decision after it satisfies itself that it has jurisdiction and that the claim is well founded.

Refusal to participate has deprived China of opportunities to influence the decision-making process in the arbitration from within. China’s attempt to explain its position, including the article by Ambassador Xie Feng, constitutes an effort to influence the decision from outside.