Reflections

The South China Sea Ruling: Who Cares?

Jul 13, 2016 | 02:20 GMT
The South China Sea Ruling: Who Cares?
Protesters picket outside the Chinese Consulate in Makati, Philippines, on July 12, the day a U.N. court ruled against China's territorial claims in its South China Sea dispute with the Philippines.
(DONDI TAWATAO/Getty Images)

The long-awaited decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on a dispute between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea was released on Tuesday. And the reaction on both sides was somewhat anticlimactic. The court nullified China's nine-dash line claim surrounding the sea as a legal basis for maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China, along with Taiwan, which has a nearly identical sea claim, flatly declared that it would not respect the ruling. (Chinese state media went so far as to release a bizarre music video titled "South China Sea Ruling: Who Cares?") China's reaction is not surprising: It has spent the past several months saying that despite being a UNCLOS signatory, it would not abide by any decision. In light of both Chinese intransigence and the absence of any real enforcement mechanism on the part of the court, the...

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