Lee Kuan Yew: China-Philippines row closure unlikely
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - April 2, 2014 - 10:13am

MANILA, Philippines — The acknowledged Father of Singapore weighed in on the long-standing maritime disputes in the South China Sea, particularly that of China and the Philippines.

Lee Kuan Yew said the claims of the Asian power and its Southeast Asian neighbor will not meet on the same grounds and a resolution seems far-fetched.

"The disputes, which arise from claims based on different principles, are unlikely to be resolved," Lee said in an essay for Forbes Magazine's April 14, 2014 issue.

Lee explained that China does not see itself becoming a global leader without control of virtually the entire South China Sea, where a third of the world's trade passes through.

"Much more is at stake than rocks and resources. China sees the South China Sea as one of its key interests. A rising China is asserting its position by claiming historical rights to these waters," he said.

The Philippine-initiated arbitration through the United Nations tribunal, meanwhile, is a juridical platform that major global powers such as China and the United States do not submit to, Lee said.

"A resurgent China isn't going to allow its sea boundaries to once again be decided by external parties," he explained.

He also said that China will not submit documents before the court to justify its position. The Philippines, on other hand, has sent its 10-volume pleading to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea last Sunday.

"[China's claims] are primarily based on China's historical presence in the waters," Lee said.

He added that China's history-based stake cannot be decided "by rules defined at a time when China was weak." Lee was referring to China's confinement under Mao Zedong in the 1970s, just when the intergovernmental courts were being established by Western powers.

Lee said that China, in challenging the Philippines and other neighboring counties, is looking back 600 years when it "sailed these waters unchallenged."

He said that Kunming-born explorer Zheng He launched expeditions spanning the entire South China Sea.

"These expeditions amply demonstrated the power and wealth of the Ming Dynasty. More important, they left a lasting impact on the countries visited," Lee said.

CHINA CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES CHINA AND THE UNITED STATES FATHER OF SINGAPORE FORBES MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL LAW OF THE SEA LEE LEE KUAN YEW SOUTH CHINA SEA
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