A ship of the Chinese Coast Guard near a ship of the Vietnam Marine Guard (bottom) in the South China Sea, about 130 miles off shore of Vietnam, May 14, 2014. NGUYEN MINH/REUTERS
On Tuesday, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration issued its final ruling in a landmark case between the Philippines and China over disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea. The object of intense global interest, the three-year-old case has come to serve as a bellwether for the kind of rising power China intends to be.
The ruling itself offered few surprises. As expected, the panel sided with the Philippines, finding no legal basis for China’s claims that it holds historic rights to most of the South China Sea. For its part, Beijing greeted the ruling with the same mix of rebuke and dismissal it has voiced throughout the case.
The real question is what happens next. If, indeed, this week’s U.N. ruling matters primarily for how Chinese leaders will respond, then—like any bellwether—much depends on knowing what to look for.
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WNU Editor: China's is coordinating its military, political, and economic resources to get what they want in the South China Sea .... and they are succeeding. The economic weapon is China's most powerful in this conflict .... and the one that the U.S. will have difficulty in countering. China's neighbours are far more dependent on China for trade and business than they are on what the U.S. can give .... and everyone in the region knows that. It always comes down to money .... and in this case the U.S. can sail a few naval ships, fly a few spy planes, put a base or two in the Philippines, and sell weapons to Vietnam .... but they cannot counter what China can do in terms of economic retaliation (or reward).