While substantial ink has been spilled (and continues to be spilled) over Russia’s de facto annexation of Crimea and South Ossetia, comparatively little attention has been paid to the Russia’s attempted expansion in the Arctic Ocean.
Latest in UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
In the two weeks that have passed since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral tribunal issued its award against China, no drastic actions have been taken by any of the key parties. China has not acted to further militarize or otherwise bolster its presence in the Spratlys, and the Philippines has not demanded immediate Chinese withdrawal. Bilateral negotiations may indeed occur.
U.S. Response to the South China Sea Arbitration and the Limits of the Diplomatic “Shamefare” Option
In a post last week, I argued that the recent UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral award against China opens the legal door to more aggressive U.S. freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) to directly challenge Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea. This week, I turn to another possible U.S. response to the arbitral award: diplomatic “shamefare.”
One of the big takeaways from the South China Sea arbitration is that the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands are mere “rocks” under Article 121(3) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea because they “cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own.” This means that even the largest islands within the group lack an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf.
Much has been written over the past several days regarding the unanimous landmark decision in the arbitration case between the Philippines and China, which soundly repudiates China’s excessive claims and activities in the South China Sea.
What will be the effect of yesterday’s blockbuster South China Sea arbitral award on the U.S. government’s policy in the region? Reportedly, an inter-agency working group in the U.S. government has been considering this question for months.
The wait is over: a judgment has been issued in the Philippines v. China South China Sea arbitration. A five-judge tribunal constituted under the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague has released its much-anticipated Award concerning the Philippines’ challenge to a number of China’s maritime claims and activities in the region.
The recent announcement that China has deployed advanced surface to air missiles on Woody Island in the Paracels island chain is, of course, only latest in series of developments that have brought increased attention to Chinese maritime and airspace claims in the South and East China Seas. But as the debate around Chinese activities grows more complex, a murky understanding of both Chinese claims and how they relate to international law and accepted international norms persists among the general public.
Yesterday, Taiwan’s outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou made a brief, but controversial visit to Itu Aba — also known as Taiping Island — in the South China Sea.
The brief Iranian detention and safe return last week of 10 U.S. sailors – and their equipment – would seem to have little in common with ongoing U.S. plans for Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea. But the failure of the U.S. to openly criticize Iran’s detention of U.S. ships could seriously undermine the U.S.’s ability to push back against China in the South China.