The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague has announced that in July it will be holding the first hearing on the 2013 arbitration case the Philippines filed against China questioning the legal validity of China’s ‘9-dash line’ claim over the South China Sea. Since China has refused to participate in any way in the proceedings, Philippine government officials are hopeful that an initial favorable ruling concerning jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippine case will be the result.
To date, as the arbitral panel has noted, China has not submitted a single responsive paper. The panel is expected to proceed with the case even without China’s appearance. This will result to a judgment that will not be binding to China, but it will be binding upon the Philippines. The five-member tribunal is composed of the following judges: Chris Pinto, president (Sri Lanka), Jean-Pierre Cot (France), Stanislaw Pawlak (Poland), Alfred Soons (the Netherlands) and Rüdiger Wolfrum (Germany). Given the composition of the panelists, a ruling in favor of the Philippines is certainly possible.