China’s Calibrated Response to the South China Sea Is Firm (Yet Flexible)

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China’s response to The Hague’s recent South China Sea arbitration ruling has been mixed. Despite negative rhetoric to the press and some military posturing, Beijing has—for the moment—avoided some of the more incendiary possible responses, such as conducting land reclamation around Scarborough Shoal, and has indicated a willingness to renew dialogue with Manila. The United States should welcome evidence of Chinese restraint, but prepare for an uptick of tensions, especially after September’s G20 meeting.

The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines’ submission was largely unfavorable to Beijing. The tribunal invalidated China’s “nine-dash line,” which covers roughly 85 percent of the South China Sea, denied any claims to “historic rights” therein, ruled that none of the maritime features included in the case are legally “islands” and thus entitled to 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zones, found that China had violated UNCLOS provisions to protect the marine environment, and concluded that Beijing had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating the dispute, including by carrying out its large-scale land reclamation program.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/chinas-calibrated-response-the-south-china-sea-firm-yet-17386

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