China intensifies opposition ahead of South China Sea ruling
MANILA, Philippines — China has intensified the drumbeat of its opposition to an international tribunal’s ruling expected Tuesday that could threaten its expansive claims in the South China Sea.
How Beijing responds to the ruling in the case filed by U.S. ally the Philippines could chart the course of global power relations in an increasingly dangerous hotspot. It comes as the U.S. has ramped up its military presence in the region and could seek to marshal world opinion to pressure Beijing into complying with the verdict. A new Philippine leader who appears friendlier to Beijing could also influence the aftermath of the ruling.
The Hague-based tribunal will decide on the 2013 case that challenges the so-called nine-dash line that China uses to claim virtually the entire South China Sea and which Manila opposes because it infringes upon its own 200-mile exclusive economic zone. The dispute centers on waters through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes through each year and are home to rich fishing stocks and a potential wealth of oil, gas and other resources.
The Philippines has also asked the tribunal to rule on whether several disputed areas are outcrops, reefs or islands, a move aimed at clarifying the extent of territorial waters they are entitled to or if they can project exclusive economic zones.
China has boycotted the case, arguing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction and saying it won’t accept the ruling. It has insisted that bilateral talks between Beijing and other claimants is the only way to address the dispute.
Findings of the tribunal are binding on the parties, including China. But the court — without police or military forces or a system of sanctions at its disposal — can’t enforce its ruling, so its potential impact remains unclear. TVJ
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