China must comply with any ruling on competing territorial claims with the Philippines in the South China Sea even if it refuses to participate in international arbitration over the dispute, Philippines Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said.
One of the two Vietnam Russian-built missile-guided frigates is seen docked at a bay in Manila November 25, 2014. Vietnam last November showed off its two most powerful warships in the first-ever port call to the Philippines but an official said it was not trying to challenge China's superior naval forces amid tension in the East Sea. Photo credit: Reuters
“It doesn’t matter if China doesn’t appear, if the tribunal finds that there is jurisdiction, the tribunal will proceed,” Carpio told Bloomberg Television in Singapore Thursday. “We don’t want anyone, any state to resort to armed force in settling this dispute.”
China has refused to participate in the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that the Philippines brought in January 2013. China rejects international mediation and has said the dispute can only be resolved through bilateral negotiations.
Disputes over the waterway are mounting as Asian neighbors push back against Chinese moves to assert claims to almost the entire South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes rich in marine resources. China is building new islands to boost its claims and its ships have clashed with vessels from the Philippines and Vietnam. Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the region.
China’s placement of an oil rig in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone last year triggered deadly anti-Chinese riots. Vietnam has not joined the case, but last year submitted its position in support of the Philippines to the tribunal.
The Philippines expects China to comply with any ruling by the arbitration panel, whether it participates in the process or not, Carpio said.
“I think world opinion will be on our side and I don’t think any country in the world can for long violate international law especially if there’s a ruling by a competent international tribunal,” he said.
China’s claim to about 90 percent of the South China Sea is based on a 1947 map. A more recent version follows a line of nine dashes shaped like a cow’s tongue, looping down to a point about 1,800 kilometers (about 1,120 miles) south from the coast of Hainan island.’
But these maps have been emphatically rejected by international experts and fly in the face of competing claims by four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.
China agreed to talks on a code of conduct for the South China Sea in July 2013 with Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and since then little progress has been made. Asean works by consensus, something that has been lacking on the South China Sea issue.
“The way everybody looks at it is that China is not in a hurry to finalize the code of conduct,” Carpio said. ‘We hope that the finalization of the code of conduct can be made soon.’’