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The PCA South China Sea ruling 4 years on: Re-examining its legal aspect

PCA rulingsOn the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the PCA ruling on the Philippines vs. China South China Sea Arbitration, an examination on the legal aspect of this matter is worthwhile.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has explicitly determined four different courts that have the jurisdiction over disputes within the Convention’s framework: the International Court of Justice (ICJ); International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS); a Permanent Arbitral Tribunal constituted in accordance with one of the Annexes of UNCLOS; and a Special Arbitral Tribunal for the settlement of one or more specified disputes (Article 287 – UNCLOS).

Revisiting the Arbitral Tribunal’s Ruling on the South China Sea after 4 years

Arbitral Tribunals Ruling on the South China SeaThis July 12 marks the fourth anniversary of the PCA ruling in the Philippines vs. China case on the South China Sea. Over the past 4 years, the situation in the South China Sea has become very complicated because China does not enforce the award but also increases more aggressive activities. The ruling has however been quieted down and rarely mentioned since and the new administration of President Duterte in the Philippines temporarily puts it aside in a bid to enhance relationship with China. However, the value of the ruling cannot be lost. Rather, it is still silently upheld and becomes increasingly stronger, as shown in the followings:

First, the public initially worried that Pres. Duterte’s administration would abandon the ruling to ensure cooperation with Beijing. However, the situation has changed after 4 years. In the past one year, Manila has referred to the Ruling several times. Pres. Duterte even directly spoke about it when talking to Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to China in late August last year. Further, after that, Mr. Duterte also mentioned the ruling in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea

The United States champions a free and open Indo-Pacific. Today we are strengthening U.S. policy in a vital, contentious part of that region — the South China Sea. We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.

In the South China Sea, we seek to preserve peace and stability, uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce, and oppose any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes. We share these deep and abiding interests with our many allies and partners who have long endorsed a rules-based international order.

China condemns ‘bullying’ as it joins UN arms trade treaty snubbed by Donald Trump

China condemnsChina on Monday joined a global arms trade treaty spurned by the United States, taking a swipe at US President Donald Trump’s administration by accusing it of bullying, unilateralism and undermining efforts to combat global challenges.

Zhang Jun, China’s UN ambassador, said he had deposited China’s instrument of accession to the treaty, which regulates a US$70 billion global cross-border trade in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers.

China, which announced its plans in September, becomes the 107th party to the pact, approved by the UN General Assembly in 2013. The then US president Barack Obama signed it, but it was opposed by the National Rifle Association and never ratified by the US Senate.

Scenarios of China’s South China Sea ADIZ and the consequences

Scenarios of Chinas South China Sea ADIZ and the consequencesEven though numerous countries around the world have unilaterally established the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) since the 1950s to control a specific range of their airspace intentionally, thus far, there is no international legal instrument to govern this issue explicitly. Generally, the establishment of ADIZ is understood as a way to allow States enough time to prepare for a potential air attack. Within such an area, foreign aircraft must comply with States’ requirements for identification, including submitting flight plans, maintaining two-way radio communication, operating the secondary radar transponder, and so forth. ADIZs are usually established in the national airspace adjacent to other nations’ sovereign airspace, like China’s ADIZ which was created above the Senkaku archipelago in 2013 – a disputed area on the East China Sea between China and Japan.

Since the beginning of 2020, due to China's increasingly unruly acts in the South China Sea (SCS), there have been speculations on the possibility of an ADIZ by Beijing above this sea area. Furthermore, there are also numerous questions concerning the scenario China will follow in case it creates such ADIZ. Many SCS experts have considered this issue carefully and believe that there are three possible scenarios:

Where the US-China Trade War Should Go From Here

where us china trade warWith the fallout from the coronavirus further straining U.S.-China relations, the brief détente the two superpowers enjoyed after signing a Phase One trade agreement in January has all but disappeared. When the agreement was signed, it was evident that China’s commitment to purchase an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods and services over the next two years was unrealistic. Amid a potential global depression in the wake of the pandemic, the deal is dead on arrival, but both governments claim they are committed to implementing it.

When the global economy begins its long and arduous recovery, the United States needs to shift its strategy in the trade war to address the core concerns that prompted the economic conflict, such as Chinese industrial espionage, noncompetitive practices of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and China’s expansive system of industrial subsidies. It will be tempting for the Trump administration to turn to tariffs once again to increase pressure against China, but this cannot be the policy moving forward.

How China Now Threatens America’s Academic Freedoms

How China now threatensDuring the height of the 1950s Red Scare, when there were Communists under every bed and spies in every closet, America saw threats to its national security everywhere. Justifiably, there were purges of those who really sought to sneak state secrets to the Soviets. War plans and bomb-making schematics were the most important of those confidential documents. Accusations abounded; not everyone was guilty.

Fast forward to 2020, and the new Red Scare is Beijing, not Moscow. The fear is that China’s long reach is not only touching but grabbing some of America’s dominant industries, institutions, plans and, of course, people. Scientists and researchers are in the crosshairs. Dr. Charles M. Lieber, the Harvard professor who recently was arrested by U.S. officials for allegedly sending research to China—and lying about it to American authorities—pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

ASEAN finally pushes back on China’s sea claims

ASEAN finally pushes back on Chinas sea claimsMANILA – In a sign of rising resistance to China’s Covid-19 strategic opportunism, the typically tight-lipped Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc has articulated a tougher stance on intensifying South China Sea disputes.

In a major departure from its notoriously anodyne statements, ASEAN has “reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones.”

It marks the first time that the regional body has explicitly identified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the sole legal basis to resolve maritime and territorial disputes in the region. Regional leaders participated in the summit remotely online due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions.

ASEAN Takes Position vs China’s Vast Historical Sea Claims

ASEAN Takes Position vs Chinas Vast Historical Sea ClaimsSoutheast Asian leaders said a 1982 U.N. oceans treaty should be the basis of sovereign rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, in one of their strongest remarks opposing China’s claim to virtually the entire disputed waters on historical grounds.

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations took the position in a statement issued by Vietnam Saturday on behalf of the 10-nation bloc. ASEAN leaders held their annual summit by video on Friday, with the coronavirus pandemic and the long-raging territorial disputes high on the agenda.

“We reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones,” the ASEAN statement said.

U.S., Chinese Navies Hold Dueling Exercises in the South China Sea

US china navyThe U.S. and Chinese navies are holding competing naval exercises in the South China Sea, as the Beijing accuses Washington of militarizing the region.

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy’s Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups transited from the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea and held the first dual-carrier drills there since 2014.

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and its strike group have been involved in near-constant dual-carrier strike group operations since June 21, first with the Theodore Roosevelt CSG and then the Reagan CSG.

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) operated with Nimitz in the Philippine Sea. The exercises follow a lull in U.S. carrier operations in the Western Pacific while Theodore Roosevelt was sidelined in Guam dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

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