Philippines wins trial of the century


The Hague ruling is binding and final, so China can comply or be branded as an outlaw in the region.

“Nothing but truth in here and it was unfair,” lamented Aglaya Ivanovna, one of Dostoyevsky’s protagonists in The Idiot. This was essentially China’s response to a major legal setback, when an arbitration body at The Hague ruled against the Asian giant’s expansive claims and assertive manoeuvres in the South China Sea.

The arbitration case was brought forward by the Philippines, which has been locked in a bitter territorial dispute with China in recent years.

Back in 2012, Chinese paramilitary forces wrested control of the Manila-claimed Scarborough Shoal, a disputed land feature that lies only 220 kilometres away from Philippine shores but almost 900 kilometres away from the nearest Chinese shoreline.

South China Sea: China dismisses Hague court ruling

It was a tragic episode for Manila, which lacked the requisite military capabilities to reclaim what it viewed as an integral element of Philippine territory.

No tangible assistance

With key traditional allies like the US unwilling to commit any tangible assistance, former Philippine President Benigno Aquino decided to take China to international court.

At the beginning, few believed that the Southeast Asian country could convince an international court, formed under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to rule against China.