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Jakarta Post

The dangerous arbitration of Beijing-Manila dispute

  • Xie Feng

Jakarta   /   Wed, June 8 2016   /  07:40 am

The arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines is against international law, its principles and practices. Arbitration is not the only, much less primary choice to peacefully settle international disputes. Compulsory arbitration, established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is defined as subsidiary and complementary to negotiation and consultation. Its application is subject to strict preconditions.

First, compulsory arbitration can only be applied to disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the UNCLOS, and not those related to territorial sovereignty. Though the Philippines packaged its appeal and asked the arbitral tribunal to rule the legal status of some of China’s islands and reefs, its real objective is to deny China’s territorial sovereignty over maritime features of the Nansha Islands.

Such territorial issues a...