EDITORIAL - Going international

(The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2014 - 12:00am

Look who’s gone to the United Nations. China, which refuses to participate in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines over maritime entitlements, has taken its territorial dispute with Vietnam to the UN.

Beijing did not take the exact same route as Manila. Instead China’s deputy ambassador to the UN submitted a “position paper” to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, complaining that Vietnam was disrupting operations at an oilrig that the Chinese installed last month in disputed waters. Beijing insisted that Hanoi was infringing on Chinese sovereignty over the area near the Paracel Islands in the Spratly chain.

The Chinese took their case to the UN amid the spread of video footage showing a Vietnamese fishing boat being pursued and then rammed by a much bigger Chinese ship near the contested area. The Chinese then left the area without bothering to rescue anyone from the sinking boat.

The installation of the oilrig has triggered riots targeting Chinese companies in Vietnam. Hanoi is said to be considering taking the same route as the Philippines, which has sought UN arbitration to define its maritime entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China, a signatory like the Philippines to the UNCLOS, refuses to participate in the arbitration, insisting that it has indisputable sovereignty over nearly all the waters around it. How a single nation became so lucky defies explanation.

Still, it is a positive sign that Beijing is now taking the trouble to present its case to the international community. China has lost a lot of goodwill in its own neighborhood because of its bizarre territorial claims and flexing of its newfound military muscle. It can still shift gears and revive its reassurance to the world that there is nothing to fear in China’s “peaceful rise.”

If it wants the UN to take jurisdiction over the dispute with Vietnam, China’s case can only be weakened by its refusal to participate in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines. Consistency is called for in these matters. A nation can’t run to the international community only when it suits its own purpose.

 

 

BEIJING CASE CHINA CHINESE INSTEAD CHINA LAW OF THE SEA PARACEL ISLANDS SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI SPRATLY UNITED NATIONS
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