Government and governance, International relations, Law, National security, South China Sea | Australia, Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, The Pacific, The World

14 July 2016

New Policy Forum Pod looks at the historic ruling on the South China Sea and what comes next for China and the Philippines.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in favour of the Philippines in its dispute with China over the South China Sea. It’s an historic ruling and one that will be a game-changer in one of the region’s flashpoints.

In this Policy Forum Pod extra, two experts discuss the ruling, what it means for China and the region, and what comes next for the Philippines.

In conversation with Policy Forum Editor Martyn Pearce are:

– Professor Don Rothwell, an international law expert from the Australian National University College of Law

– Dr John Blaxland, a Senior Fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the ANU Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

Professor Rothwell points out that in handing down its ruling the tribunal “was hamstrung because it didn’t have the advantage of Chinese legal argument and there were very good legal arguments that China could have presented.”

China made clear at the outset of the case that it would not accept the ruling, whatever it may be, and in spite of its legally binding nature.

“The proceedings are ones in which China absolutely refused to be part of and that created significant challenges for the tribunal,” Rothwell says noting that the tribunal “did go to great lengths to provide China with opportunities to participate, even at very late stages of the proceedings.”

Dr Blaxland said following China’s rejection of the tribunal’s ruling, it was clear that we are “seeing China assert itself over the South China Sea in a way that appears to be about diminishing American influence.”

But he highlights that “China is now in an awkward position where the rest of the world is standing up against it.”

Moving forward, Dr Blaxland says, “it is important that the Philippines’ partner nations in ASEAN work hard to find a way forward that seeks to break through this impasse.”

After more analysis of the South China Sea decision? Policy Forum has you covered. Check out this post-arbitration analysis from Marina Tsirbas Ruling the South China Sea or dive into the history of the dispute with expert insights by browsing these previous pieces.

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