MANILA, BEIJING, AND UNCLOS: A TEST CASE?

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Introduction: International law and the South China Sea

After a long summer replete with tensions and incidents in both the South China2 and East China Seas, the new year failed to bring renewed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the myriad territorial conflicts casting a shadow on the Asia-Pacific Region. Rather the contrary, renewed incidents, naval rearmament, claims and counterclaims, not always veiled threats to resort to force, and decentralized boycott campaigns and cyberspace clashes. One novelty was the decision by the Philippines to try a new tack in its clash with China, resorting to a tool not previously employed by any of the claimants,3 namely a request for arbitration under UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Although this gambit was rejected by China, and the fate of the case is uncertain at the time of writing, we will examine the legal positions of Manila and Beijing in the context of their wider dispute, and the far-reaching implications of the case.4

– See more at: http://japanfocus.org/-Alex-Calvo/3988#sthash.sgYkeoBl.dpuf

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