China paper says Beijing should brace for possible 'military collisions'
( - July 13, 2016 - 8:55pm
MANILA, Philippines — China should brace for worst-case scenarios including “potential military collisions” after a Hague-based arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) row, a Chinese newspaper said Wednesday.
China Daily, the only national English paper in China, believes the tribunal’s decision “is guaranteed to escalate tense exchanges” and would surely be used by Washington to vilify Beijing.
“But with military activity reaching unprecedented levels in the South China Sea, there is no guarantee that an escalating war of words will not transform into something more,” the paper said in an editorial posted on its website.
“While preparing itself for the possibly endless ‘lawfare,’ Beijing certainly should, and has to, ready itself for worst-case scenarios, including potential military collisions,” it added. 
The paper, nevertheless, said China knows that peace best serves its long-term interests and that of the region.
“The test now for Beijing is whether it can realize the ‘pragmatic provisional arrangements’ it proposed. That entails proposing attractive options, and a positive response from other claimants,” the editorial read.
On Tuesday, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague ruled that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to virtually the entire South China Sea, a resource-rich area where about $5-trillion worth of trade passes through annually.
China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea but this is being contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
In its 497-page landmark decision, the court said China had violated the Philippines’s rights when it built artificial islands in disputed areas and obstructed Filipinos’ fishing and oil exploration activities.
The unanimous ruling also awarded the Philippines sovereign rights over the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank. Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, and Recto (Reed) Bank. 
While the court did not award sovereign rights to the Philippines over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, it nevertheless declared that China had violated the Philippines’s rights when it prevented Filipino fishermen from entering the area. The shoal is located 124 nautical miles from the nearest point in Zambales and is well within the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone. 
China, which refused to recognize the complaint filed by the Philippines before the Hague-based tribunal in 2013, has described the decision as “null and void.” The Chinese government also claimed that the ruling would not affect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea. 
The United States (US), a defense treaty partner of the Philippines, said the ruling is legally binding and should be complied with by the concerned parties. The US has said that it won't take sides in the dispute but has repeatedly challenged China's sweeping territorial claims by sending ships to the South China Sea.
China Daily, which claims to have a presence in more than 150 countries, dismissed the ruling as a mere “piece of paper” that revealed the “tribunal's degeneration into a political instrument.”
“Just as anticipated, the South China Sea arbitral tribunal in The Hague delivered an outrageously one-sided ruling in the case initiated by the Philippines,” the paper said.
“The Philippines, along with some other countries, may rejoice over the tribunal's de facto overthrowing of Beijing's core territorial claims. But there is no moral high ground to claim here, because the ruling is inherently biased, unjust, and thus not executable,” it added. 
The paper said China has vowed to respect and support freedom of navigation and overflight for all countries and to protect international transport channels “in spite of its understandable anger.”
“At this point, at least, Beijing is willing to make every effort to make pragmatic provisional arrangements, including jointly developing corresponding areas,” it said.
“So while enthusiastic third parties may provide them with all ammunition they need to confront China, if the parties concerned are truly seeking peaceful solutions to the disputes, they should not miss out before Beijing has to close the door to negotiations.”

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