Court decides against China in Sea dispute but who will enforce the decision ?

The Philippines took China to the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague) in January 2013 after the Chinese navy seized control of Scarborough Shoal, a largely submerged chain of reefs and rocks amid rich fishing grounds off the Philippine island of Luzon.

The ruling could lead to more friction between China and the United States, with the issue seen as a key test of Washington’s ability to maintain its leading role in Asian security in the face of China’s rising power.

The decision was hailed as a landmark victory for those worried that Beijing is extending its military control over waters with key strategic and commercial significance. But Chinese President Xi Jinping signaled that he was in no mood to back down.

“The islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territories since ancient times,” he said, according to state media. “China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on these awards.”

The Foreign Ministry said China “solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force.”

There is about $5 trillion of resources in the South China Sea and China wants to control for geopolitical and security reasons. How will the decision be enforced ?

In a few years China will have the world’s second most capable navy. China is already a world leader in shipbuilding, and it has the world’s largest fishing industry. Its merchant marine ranks either first or second in terms of total number of ships owned by citizens. It already has the world’s largest number of coast guard vessels.

For China to satisfy the maritime power objective, it must be able to defend all of China’s maritime rights and interests in its near seas in spite of U.S. military presence and alliance commitments. In short, it must be able to successfully execute what the latest defense white paper terms “offshore waters defense” for China to be considered a maritime power.

Many nations, including Russia, the United States and Britain, have disregarded international rulings at some point. And, unlike China, the United States has not even ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which underpinned Tuesday’s ruling, so Washington could not be held accountable in a similar way.

There are mixed consequences when countries disregard rulings such as Tuesday’s determinations by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. But the biggest one is a hit against a country’s global reputation. China’s leaders probably figure they can weather it.

They follow a well-worn path. Most recently, Britain tangled with the same Permanent Court of Arbitration. It ruled that the British government — which sought to create a marine reserve in part of the Indian Ocean — violated the fishing rights of citizens of the island nation of Mauritius. Britain said the tribunal had no jurisdiction to make the ruling. Last year, the tribunal ruled that it did. It is still not clear whether Britain will abide by the ruling

SOURCES- Washington Post