In a speech in Hong Kong last Thursday, pioneering China legal scholar Jerome Cohen said China was looking like a “bully” for rejecting international arbitration of its territorial dispute with the Philippines, according to a South China Morning Post report.
The two countries both claim the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are believed to hold rich oil and gas reserves. The Philippines has sought arbitration before a United Nations tribunal but China has insisted on a bilateral resolution.
“The leadership obviously took the view that damage is likely to be less, especially if it can coerce the Philippines into further compromise while arbitration is going on,” said Cohen, who is a New York University School of Law professor as well as of counsel at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind & Garrison, at a speech at Hong Kong University.
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