IF the South China/West Philippine Sea row between China and the Philippines were to be adjudicated according to the quality of support that each side has marshaled in the dispute, the Philippines would surely win its case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, whose decision will be handed down within weeks.
While our country has won the support of many nations and regional organizations in its determined stand against China’s claim to sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, China has no comparable cheering squad rooting in the stands.
The Philippines has lined up on its side the US, Japan, Australia, Britain and others, including respected global bodies like the European Union (EU) and G7. China can count on the support only of Russia, Mauritania, Venezuela and Gambia.
To counter the clear Philippine advantage and growing international consensus on the maritime dispute, China has embarked on a major diplomatic effort to secure the support of nations for its position, using its money as a weapon.
Because there is little support for its claims in Asia, and virtually none in Europe, China has lately been mining support in Africa, which is an ocean away from the disputed waters, reefs and islets.