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Round two

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - November 26, 2015 - 9:00am

Round two of the UN arbitration case filed by the country against China's widespread territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea has begun. And the first piece of evidence presented by the panel is a very old map of China itself, showing no claims whatsoever on any of the islands in the Spratlys. The so-called "nine-dash line" China is currently using to mark the area that it supposedly owns is a new development, contrived purely for their benefit, at a time when they can now bully their way into the islands.

Conspicuously absent, as evidenced by an empty table reserved for their delegates at The Hague, is China. It continues to state that they will not participate in the ongoing arbitration, even calling the country's actions a "political provocation." China continues to claim sovereignty over almost the entire ocean, something the Philippine panel is contesting, citing international law which China chooses to ignore in spite of being a signatory to UNCLOS. More maps will be presented to further strengthen the country's stand that the "nine-dash line" does not exist.

Japan, Australia, and five other countries have sent observers to the arbitration. Countries with their own territorial claims are likewise closely monitoring the proceedings. Analysts say that should a decision favorable to the country is handed down by the tribunal, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan may file their own cases, citing a precedent. More problems for China, if ever. The country enjoys the support of many countries in its decision to peacefully settle the problem through arbitration.

But the question remains, will China accept a decision by the tribunal? Many say they will continue to ignore calls to halt reclamation and declarations of sovereignty. China is in a position of power, so to speak. It boasts of a strong military and has enormous economic ties with many countries, including the US which has recently stepped up its rhetoric on China's reclamation activities. Where does that leave the country?

Territory is a hot issue nowadays. Recently, a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish ground forces for allegedly entering Turkish airspace. The fighter was supporting Syrian forces fighting rebels. According to Turkish officials, the pilot ignored their warnings, forcing them to take what they call a justified action to protect their sovereignty. With Turkey being a member of NATO, the incident automatically brings in the US. It has supported the actions of its member, much to the consternation of Russia which has called the incident "a stab in the back." The world now waits for Russia's response, if any. Meetings are now underway to defuse the situation.

Will China resort to such actions to enforce its claim on the Spratlys? Let's hope not, for everyone's sake.

korina_abs@yahoo.com

 

ACTIONS ARBITRATION BRUNEI AND TAIWAN CHINA COUNTRIES COUNTRY QUOT SPRATLYS WEST PHILIPPINE SEA WILL CHINA WITH TURKEY
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