.
China’s rejection last week of the arbitral tribunal’s decision concerning sovereignty of the South China Sea should not surprise us. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague rejected China’s historical claim to sovereignty over a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean from the Malacca to the Taiwan Straits. China refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings, which were initiated unilaterally by the Philippines. Chinese president, Xi Jinping called the decision “null and void,” but said that China nonetheless remains committed to resolving the dispute through direct negotiations amongst all nations concerned. The tribunal said that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and had caused “harm to the coral reef environment” by building artificial islands. All along, China has contended that the islands of the South China Sea have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times and also that China reserves the right to set up air Defense (ADIZ) or “no fly” zones in the region to protect national security. The Chinese Foreign ministry said the tribunal’s decision is “null and void” with “no binding force”. While the decision is considered legally binding, there is indeed no mechanism to enforce it. It now appears as though the future U.S. approach to China, if it is to be fruitful, may have to change—from one being based on a policy of isolating and containing China, a policy which has not had the anticipated results, to one based on engaging with China more directly by building on bilateral cooperation in matters of mutual interest.

About
Paul Nash
:
Toronto-based Correspondent Paul Nash is a frequent China commentator and serves as a Senior Contributing Editor at Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Beijing Calls Hague Tribunal’s Decision On South China Sea “Null And Void”

A boat, center, is surrounded by Japan Cost Guard's patrol boats after some activists descended from the boat on Uotsuri Island, one of the islands of Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, in East China Sea Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. Regional tensions flared on the emotional anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender as activists from China and South Korea used Wednesday’s occasion to press rival territorial claims, prompting 14 arrests by Japanese authorities. The 14 people had traveled by boat from Hong Kong to the disputed islands controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. (AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Masataka Morita) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
July 21, 2016

China’s rejection last week of the arbitral tribunal’s decision concerning sovereignty of the South China Sea should not surprise us. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague rejected China’s historical claim to sovereignty over a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean from the Malacca to the Taiwan Straits. China refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings, which were initiated unilaterally by the Philippines. Chinese president, Xi Jinping called the decision “null and void,” but said that China nonetheless remains committed to resolving the dispute through direct negotiations amongst all nations concerned. The tribunal said that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and had caused “harm to the coral reef environment” by building artificial islands. All along, China has contended that the islands of the South China Sea have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times and also that China reserves the right to set up air Defense (ADIZ) or “no fly” zones in the region to protect national security. The Chinese Foreign ministry said the tribunal’s decision is “null and void” with “no binding force”. While the decision is considered legally binding, there is indeed no mechanism to enforce it. It now appears as though the future U.S. approach to China, if it is to be fruitful, may have to change—from one being based on a policy of isolating and containing China, a policy which has not had the anticipated results, to one based on engaging with China more directly by building on bilateral cooperation in matters of mutual interest.

About
Paul Nash
:
Toronto-based Correspondent Paul Nash is a frequent China commentator and serves as a Senior Contributing Editor at Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.