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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

China Must Abide by Sea Ruling, Philippine Justice Says


By Andrea Tan
Bloomberg 
Antonio-Carpio.19(Bloomberg) — China must comply with any ruling on competing territorial claims with the Philippines in the South China Sea even if it refuses to participate in international arbitration over the dispute, Philippines Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said.
“It doesn’t matter if China doesn’t appear, if the tribunal finds that there is jurisdiction, the tribunal will proceed,” Carpio told Bloomberg Television in Singapore Thursday. “We don’t want anyone, any state to resort to armed force in settling this dispute.”
China has refused to participate in the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that the Philippines brought in January 2013. China rejects international mediation and has said the dispute can only be resolved through bilateral negotiations.
Disputes over the waterway are mounting as Asian neighbors push back against Chinese moves to assert claims to almost the entire South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes rich in marine resources. China is building new islands to boost its claims and its ships have clashed with vessels from the Philippines and Vietnam. Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the region.
China’s placement of an oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands last year triggered deadly anti-Chinese riots. Vietnam has not joined the case, but last year submitted its position in support of the Philippines to the tribunal.
World Opinion
The Philippines expects China to comply with any ruling by the arbitration panel, whether it participates in the process or not, Carpio said.
“I think world opinion will be on our side and I don’t think any country in the world can for long violate international law especially if there’s a ruling by a competent international tribunal,” he said.
China’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea is based on a 1947 map. A more recent version follows a line of nine dashes shaped like a cow’s tongue, looping down to a point about 1,800 kilometers (about 1,120 miles) south from the coast of Hainan island.
Code of Conduct
China agreed to talks on a code of conduct for the South China Sea in July 2013 with Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and since then little progress has been made. Asean works by consensus, something that has been lacking on the South China Sea issue.
“The way everybody looks at it is that China is not in a hurry to finalize the code of conduct,” Carpio said. ‘We hope that the finalization of the code of conduct can be made soon.’’
The Philippines sought arbitration only after 17 years of negotiations with China failed to achieve any progress, Carpio said during a question and answer session after giving a speech Thursday on the South China Sea dispute at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“China is committing grand theft,” he said. “There’s no way that one country can claim the entire sea for its own. The Philippines ‘‘have an impregnable position in the dispute,’’ he added.
If the Philippines wins its case and China refuses to comply with the ruling, the Southeast Asian nation will petition a United Nations council every year until China abides by the decision, Carpio said in a second interview after the speech.
He said an ‘‘arms race’’ is building up in the South China Sea as China expands its naval power.
‘‘Of course you can’t expect to beat them,’’ he said. ‘‘But you can make it painful for other countries to encroach on your maritime zones.’’’
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

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