10 May 2016
South Korea is facing a diplomatic challenge as an international tribunal is expected to render its landmark ruling in the Philippines’ legal battle against China over their dispute in the South China Sea as early as this month, observers said Tuesday.
Although Seoul is not embroiled in any spat over the contested waters, it has been closely watching the maritime conflict that has escalated geopolitical tensions involving the United States and China — its security ally and largest trading partner, respectively.
Washington has been pushing to preserve what it calls the “global commons,” or freedom of navigation in the strategically crucial waterway, while Beijing claims the lion’s share of it. This has posed a diplomatic headache for Seoul as it strives to maintain close ties with both powers.
… Michael Raska, assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, anticipated that Seoul may even need to consider sending its military assets to the contested waters beyond diplomatic statements calling for peaceful resolution of the disputes.
“South Korea may in the long-term undertake specific maritime deployments — not only to support freedom of navigation and the rights of passage and overflight in the South China Sea, but also to shore up important relationships, prevent the escalation of tensions, and signal concern to China,” he said.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 10/05/2016