#AnimatED: Strategic patience in negotiating with China
After the sweeping victory of the Philippines, the hard work begins – and the need to shift mindsets away from quick fixes to long-term strategic patience.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands unanimously decided in favor of the Philippines, striking down China’s historic claims to the South China Sea and sharply rebuking it for violating our country’s exclusive-economic-zone rights and causing harm to the marine environment.
China has consistently said it will ignore the ruling and has disparaged the tribunal’s decision as part of a Western conspiracy, adding that its members were bribed by the Philippines.
With China digging in, the questions that’s uppermost in our minds are: how do we, a small country, make this giant hegemon abide by the tribunal ruling? What are the next moves of the Duterte government?
In dealing with China, let’s take a leaf from their history: they tend to think in terms of centuries. They can wait out this international humiliation.
Thus, the challenge for the Duterte government is to gather world opinion on the side of the Philippines and put diplomatic pressure on China to the point that it would want to avoid a cost to its reputation as an aspiring global power.
In last week’s Asia-Europe Meeting in Mongolia, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr sounded off countries about engaging “concerned parties” to reduce regional tensions following the milestone decision of the arbitral tribunal. Yasay raised the issue despite China’s objections.
The US and Japan have called on China to comply with the Hague ruling.
Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, warned China that its reputation would suffer if it ignores the decision.
The EU stopped short of saying this but urged China and the Philippines to settle the South China Sea dispute peacefully.
Apart from diplomacy, the Philippines can tap international legal avenues to keep the pressure on China. For example, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said in a forum last week that the Philippines can demand reparations for the damage China has done to the marine environment in the South China Sea and ask the International Seabed Authority to suspend permits of China should they violate our EEZ.
So far, we can take comfort in the words of the solicitor general, Jose Calida. He said the Philippines will engage China in bilateral talks using the tribunal’s ruling as basis: “The baseline for any negotiation should be the decision from the Permanent Court of Arbitration.” Nothing can be clearer than that.
This is just the starting point. The Duterte government needs to move out of its quick-fix, shock-and-awe mold and map out a strategy – way beyond 6 years – to make China comply with the Hague ruling. – Rappler.com