From November 24 to 30, the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) convened in The Hague to hear oral arguments on merit in the The Republic of Philippines v The People’s Republic of China case over competing claims in the South China Sea. After ruling at the end of October that the international tribunal had the jurisdiction to hear the case, the first round of arguments saw the Philippines present their claims to the tribunal supported by evidence and witnesses. The PCA is currently expected to hand down a final judgment in the case as early as mid-2016, and that judgment—even though it will focus narrowly on the specific issue of competing Chinese–Philippine entitlements—is widely anticipated to discredit the majority of China’s claims in the South China Sea.
If the tribunal does hand down an unfavorable judgment for China, what happens next? The PCA has no enforcement mechanism, so to what lengths will the Philippines, the U.S. and other stakeholders go to ensure China abides by the ruling? The South China Sea disputes are far from being just a collection of bilateral issues, so what happens post-arbitration in the South China Sea has serious implications for the future of the regional order. With June 2016 only six months away, let’s take a quick look at three potential ways the situation could play out if China is handed an unfavorable ruling.
Read more: http://www.nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/could-court-case-strip-china-its-south-china-sea-claims-14558