Russia feared to change position on arbitral ruling
MANILA, Philippines — Some countries have changed their positions on the July 2016 South China Sea arbitration ruling that favored the Philippines and rejected China’s sweeping maritime claims with many remaining “studiously silent” on the issue, according to American think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (Amti).
In the updated arbitration support tracker on its website, Amti said there were now eight governments that had publicly called for the ruling to be respected while eight others had publicly rejected it.
According to the think tank, over the last few years, only two countries — Germany and the United Kingdom — have evolved from positively acknowledging the ruling to explicitly calling for it to be respected.
The six other countries that expressed support for the ruling were the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.
One country, Indonesia, shifted from neutral to vaguely positive.
On the other hand, two other nations — Russia and Syria — moved from neutral to being opposed to the ruling, joining China, Montenegro, Pakistan, Sudan, Taiwan and Vanuatu.
The Amti also named 34 other countries that had issued generally positive statements about the verdict “but stopped short of calling for the parties to abide by it.”
“Everyone else remains exactly where they were a month after the ruling was issued. And for most countries, that means studiously silent,” it said. International pressure
Before the ruling, the Amti had identified 31 countries that publicly voiced support for Beijing’s position.
In contrast, 41 nations said the arbitral award would be legally binding and called on both China and the Philippines to respect it.
“How many countries recognize the decision as legally binding on both parties and call for it to be respected will determine its ultimate value, as international pressure is the only enforcement mechanism,” the Amti said.
The think tank said it looked for publicly available official statements to determine the real positions taken by countries.
The ruling, which the Permanent Court of Arbitration made on July 12, 2016, recognized the exclusive rights of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea and pronounced that China’s “nine-dash line” claim — an imaginary line that claimed most of the South China Sea as part of its territory — had no legal and historical basis.
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