China and the Philippines, after the arbitration decision, could settle the issues by taking account of the decision without formally mentioning it. Illustration: Craig Stephens
International tensions are rising rapidly as D-Day approaches in the Philippines arbitration case against China. Increasingly anxious, Beijing is resorting to a full-court press in the propaganda realm, seeking to justify its refusal to participate in the proceedings, and it has rejected in advance the forthcoming decision of the distinguished arbitration panel of five independent maritime experts. Both the Chinese Society of International Law and the All China Lawyers Association have just issued dutiful supporting arguments.
Rumour even has it that the People’s Republic, by enticing many landlocked autocracies and other smaller states with no apparent interest in the South China Sea to endorse its position, may seek to delegitimise the arbitration decision through a majority vote in the UN General Assembly or some other international forum.