Issue Brief on “South China Sea Dispute: Need for a Peaceful Settlement”

On July 27, 2016 top diplomats from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Tianjin, China to discuss the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (SCS), and to make progress towards a more binding Code of Conduct in the region. The meeting followed tensions between China and ASEAN countries after a ruling by Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (PCA) on July 12, 2016regarding the territorial disputes in the SCS.[1]

In a 497 page verdict, PCA ruled that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to a large part of the SCS under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). In 2013, the Philippines had filed a case after the Chinese navy took control of the Scarborough Shoal.China has refused to participate in the proceedings of case because its outcome could have long-lasting consequences for its rise as a superpower, global trade and even world peace. Beijing has maintained that the case went beyond the jurisdiction of the court, and it would not accept the decision. China rejected the verdict soon after it was issued calling it “ill-founded”. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, said China’s “territorial sovereignty and marine rights” in the seas would not be affected by the ruling. He maintained China was still “committed to resolving disputes” with its neighbours. While the Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary called to exercise restraint and sobriety.

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