South China Sea Showdown: Part of a Much Bigger Nightmare

Here are some key details about the case.

A statement made by former law dean Raul Pangalangan months before he was elected a judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) circulated again last Friday, as anticipation over the ruling by the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine case against China mounted.

The shoal in the Spratly Islands chain is also claimed by China, which calls it the Renai Shoal.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in her May 20 inauguration speech that the countries that claim jurisdiction in the East China Sea and South China Sea should set aside their disputes and work on joint development of the region, .

Last week, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "To date, more than 30 African countries have expressed their explicit support to China's position through various channels, to which we would like to express our high appreciation".

However, Huang did not give a direct response when asked what the administration's stance on the "11-dash line" was, saying only that the Republic of China (ROC) government stands firm on its claim of sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島).

- China repeatedly warned the Philippines against pushing ahead with the case, and Beijing has refused to participate in any of its hearings, forgoing its right to appoint a judge. It has constructed port facilities, military installations and airstrips on these artificial islands, and these bolster China's foothold in the South China Sea.

Beijing, therefore, was not entitled to an exclusive economic zone, but rather just to 12 nautical miles of territorial waters, the Philippines said.

On the other hand, the United States risks the very real possibility of war with China should it decide to confront China militarily by sending USA ships into the disputed waters.

China and the Philippines have already reached agreement, in bilateral documents, on resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation. "We seek to keep lines of communication with Beijing open and improve our cooperation in areas of mutual interest and to speak candidly and constructively when we disagree", he said. It challenges Chinese activities, including fishing, dredging and law enforcement patrols, as well as Beijing's reclamation and construction on seven reefs in the Spratlys. Asem will be the first major multi-lateral diplomatic forum that will bring China face-to-face with its Western counterparts after The Hague arbitration ruling, which is expected on 12 July.

He said if there are tensions in the South China Sea, it's because certain countries outside the region have displayed shows of force and interference, an apparent reference to the United States.

- Manila's lawyers have also argued that none of the islands, shoals and reefs across the Spratlys are significant enough to lay claim to an EEZ. China has been asserting that it will not honour The Hague ruling, inviting criticism.

Lurid accusations of China's "aggression" and "belligerence" serve as the pretext for America's military expansion throughout Asia, including in the South China Sea.

China's strong rhetoric, however, will not likely translate to aggressive action, Bonnie Glaser, senior advocate for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., told the Associated Press. "It is disregarding the Chinese legal right obtained when China joined the International Law of the Sea Convention as having obtained the exemption to be a party to any arbitration as far as Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity are concerned". Exercises with partner nations, freedom of navigation exercises and presence operations which mean US Department of Defense continues to fly, sail and operate "wherever worldwide law allows so that others can do the same", Denmark said. In such a scenario, the Philippines, and other claimant nations can only negotiate effectively with China if it "manages to leverage the outcome of the arbitration case".

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