VietNamNet Bridge – China’s announcement of winning support from 60 countries in the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) dispute has attracted the special attention of the international community. But then, the truth was revealed: China did not tell the truth.
China illegally builds artificial islands in the East Sea.
In a few more days, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague (Netherlands) will make a decision on the case of the Philippines against China concerning the regulation of entities in the East Sea.
The PCA will not decide on the ownership of these entities, but only the maritime rights for these entities. In addition to the legal impact of this decision, which is considered a cornerstone in the evolution of the East Sea disputes, the case is expected to favor Manila on almost every aspect and affect the prestige of China.
Right from the start, Beijing spent a lot of money to persuade, intimidate and entice countries inside and outside the region to support the view of China in the East Sea. They loudly said there was no need for an international organization to intervene in the dispute and the dispute should be resolved on the basis of bilateral negotiations.
It was not surprising as this bilateral approach is beneficial for China, which has a louder voice than the smaller and weaker claimants (like the Philippines).
However, many times China was exposed to fabricate evidence and tell lies; for example, the recent statement on who supports their views concerning the East Sea dispute.
In many cases, this country provided only general information after diplomatic meetings, saying that the countries they had met expressed support for China’s views in the East Sea, but failed to quote the words of any senior official.
A final ruling is expected soon from a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague hearing Manila’s case against Beijing’s claims in the East Sea. How many countries recognize the decision as legally binding on both parties and call for it to be respected will determine its ultimate value, as international pressure is the court’s only enforcement mechanism.
In an effort to deflect that pressure, Chinese officials and state media have been trumpeting the number of countries that have voiced support for Beijing’s position that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction in the case and the ruling is therefore invalid.
In a recent press conference, when reporters asked how many countries supported the view of China, the spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry said 60, the number that a journalist had mentioned in a previous question. However, China cannot name these countries.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), under the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), has recently published the results of a study to help clarify this.
AMTI has scoured publicly availableofficial statements in an effort to determine the real positions taken by countries. It has identified 60 countries that appear to be included in China’s list of supporters.
Of those, 8 have publicly confirmed their support, 4 have denied Beijing’s claim of support, and 48 have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China.
In contrast, 40 countries have voiced support for the arbitration proceedings, said the award will be legally binding, and/or called on China and the Philippines to respect it.
Support for China’s position is defined here as an explicit public statement that 1) the arbitral tribunal lacks jurisdiction or legitimacy; 2) the right of states to choose their own method of dispute resolution should be respected (and therefore compulsory dispute mechanisms such as the tribunal are invalid); or 3) the right of states to exempt certain types of disputes from compulsory settlement as provided for by article 298 of the UNCLOS should be respected (which China claims invalidates the arbitral proceedings because they actually touch upon boundary delimitation, from which it has exempted itself).
These are the main reasons that China will be concerned at the cost of credibility following the ruling of the PCA. Until now, only a few days before the trial, Beijing has still not received a public statement in favor.