24 August 2015
China’s position on the South China Sea disputes has been conflicting, if not confusing. Its grand plan to expand cooperative ties with countries along the “One Belt, One Road” initiative could be undermined by its aggressive posture on the South China Sea.
On July 8, 2015, the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague began deliberations on whether it had the jurisdiction to resolve the dispute between the Philippines and China on the exploitation of maritime resources in the South China Sea, where there were overlapping maritime territorial claims. The Philippines argues that the Court is the correct venue for the proceedings. China does not recognise the Court’s jurisdiction and claims that the dispute is about sovereignty, not the exploitation of resources.
The Chinese unwillingness to consider third party arbitration has had a negative impact on negotiations on the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. While lip service has been paid to the need for an early conclusion to the negotiations and ‘early harvest’ initiatives have been discussed, progress has been slow. The negotiations have reminded observers that it took 10 years (from 2002 to 2012) for movement from agreement on the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) and the onset of negotiations on the COC between ASEAN and China. The worry is that the COC would take a decade or more of negotiations before agreement is reached.
… Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow and Bakrie Professor of Southeast Asia Policy, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This was published earlier by the Brookings Institution.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 25/08/2015