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Bangsamoro’s Potential for Regional Gains

The recently established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) offers new hope for a peaceful future for its majority-Muslim population after decades of war. The new entity is the result of almost two dozen years of talks, and the peace agreements it was built on are inclusive pacts that aim to take into account the Bangsamoro’s complexity while focusing on giving its population a long-awaited peace dividend.

Yet from the start, the Bangsamoro was also rooted in a trans-regional reality, shaped by geography just as much as by the tides of war, peace, and everything in between. The various Muslim ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao making up the Bangsamoro share several cultural, religious, and linguistic characteristics with the populations of neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.…  Seguir leyendo »

A PLA Navy fleet takes part in a review in the South China Sea on 12 April. Photo: Getty Images.

On 12 July 2016, an independent arbitral tribunal established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) published a clear and binding ruling on China’s claims vis-à-vis the Philippines in the South China Sea. China’s response at the time was to dismiss the ruling as ‘nothing more than a piece of waste paper’.

Interestingly, in the two years since then it has, in some small ways, complied with it. However, it is also clear that China’s behaviour in the South China Sea has not fundamentally changed. It is, in effect, using military force to try to extort concessions from its neighbours.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace tres meses, la Corte Permanente de Arbitraje de La Haya dictaminó que no había ningún sustento legal para que China reclamara derechos históricos sobre los recursos del Mar Occidental de Filipinas (también conocido como Mar de la China Meridional) y, en consecuencia, que las Filipinas tienen derechos exclusivos sobre el territorio. China rechazó la sentencia, y un frío glacial empañó la relación bilateral alguna vez amistosa. Es hora de recuperar cierta cordialidad.

Poco después del dictamen, el presidente filipino, Rodrigo Duterte, inesperadamente me designó, a los 88 años, como enviado especial de mi país a China, con ese simple objetivo.…  Seguir leyendo »

El mar del Sur de China es el Mediterráneo del este de Asia. Por sus aguas transita el 70% del comercio -incluidos productos energéticos, como gas y petróleo- de la zona, lo que representa un tercio del comercio mundial, y como vía de conexión entre el Índico y el Pacífico tiene valor estratégico fundamental. El 12 de julio, la Corte Permanente de Arbitraje (CPA) asestó un duro golpe en las pretensiones chinas de controlar buena parte de esas aguas. Pekín, que reivindica el 80% de los 3,5 millones de kilómetros cuadrados de esa superficie, baraja cómo encajar la bofetada jurídica.El panel de cinco expertos en Derecho Internacional Marítimo de este desconocido organismo -fundado en 1899, dormido entre 1946 y 1990 y con 121 países miembros-- falló por unanimidad a favor de 14 de las 15 demandas interpuestas por Filipinas contra los «derechos históricos» chinos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tuesday’s ruling by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea has bought a little clarity to the problems in the South China Sea, but it has not made solving the underlying problems significantly simpler.

In a bad day for China, the Tribunal ruled that Beijing’s ‘nine-dash line’ (its claim to between 60% and 90% of the waters of the South China Sea) had no legal basis because China’s claims of ‘historic rights’ to the waters of the Sea had been rendered invalid when it signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The judgement went on to say that none of the Spratlys, a chain of reefs and rocks at the southern end of the South China Sea where China has recently built seven installations, were 'islands' and therefore did not generate any territorial or economic rights regardless of who occupied them.…  Seguir leyendo »

El tribunal arbitral presidido por el juez Thomas A. Mensah ha decidido sobre la demanda presentada por Filipinas contra China en relación con las actividades de ésta en el mar de China meridional. La reclamación filipina tiene su origen en los incidentes del arrecife de las Scarborough en 2012, cuando buques chinos expulsaron a los pescadores filipinos que allí faenaban. Pero los conflictos en el mar de China meridional no son nuevos. Son múltiples los problemas territoriales que enfrentan a China con la práctica totalidad de esos países, fundamentalmente Vietnam, Malasia, Filipinas y Brunei, en las islas Spratly, y Taiwán y Vietnam, en las Paracel.…  Seguir leyendo »

China has taken a leap towards clarifying its claims in the South China Sea, but in a direction that could intensify frictions.

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea delivered a sweeping ruling Tuesday against China in an arbitration case initiated by the Philippines. The result significantly limits the size of the maritime zones and scope of maritime rights that China can legally claim. Minutes later, the Chinese government issued a statement. In it, China stakes claims to sovereignty over all land features in the South China Sea, as well as entitlement to internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf based on these islands, as well as historic rights in unspecified waters.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ruling by an arbitral tribunal of five members based in The Hague was simple and devastating. It declares that ‘China’s claims to historic rights… with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the “nine-dash line” are contrary to the [The UN] Convention [on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS]’. This is a result that Southeast Asia’s maritime countries have long sought. The way is now clear to resolve all the disputes in the region, if the participants choose to do so.

For decades, countries around the South China Sea lived under the shadow of a quasi-territorial claim that no one really understood.…  Seguir leyendo »

La sentencia de la Corte Permanente de Arbitraje (CPA) de La Haya en contra de los reclamos territoriales de China en el Mar de China Meridional será recibida con alivio en las capitales de la región. Pero es poco probable que revierta una de las tendencias más preocupantes en Asia: un alarmante acopio de armas en la región.

Según el Instituto Internacional de Estudios para la Paz de Estocolmo, Asia hoy responde por casi la mitad del gasto mundial en armamentos -más del doble que el gasto total de los países de Oriente Medio y cuatro veces más que el de Europa.…  Seguir leyendo »

La comunidad internacional ha sido informada del “fallo final” sobre el polémico “arbitraje sobre el mar Meridional de China”. Dado que este arbitraje viola el derecho internacional tanto en contenido como en procedimiento, el fallo carece de toda validez jurídica. China rechaza cualquier coacción que se ejerza para obligarle a aceptar el arbitraje. El asunto referido en el arbitraje es en esencia la disputa entre China y Filipinas por la soberanía sobre las islas del mar Meridional de China.De cara a esta disputa, los importantes hechos fundamentales no pueden ser ignorados:

En primer lugar, antes de la década de los 70 del siglo pasado, la comunidad internacional no tenía ninguna objeción al hecho de que China poseía la soberanía sobre las islas del mar Meridional de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Convención de Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho del Mar de 1982, que ha sido calificada como la constitución del Derecho del Mar, prevé en su Anexo VII un sistema de solución de diferencias que ha utilizado la República de Filipinas para llevar a la República Popular de China ante un tribunal arbitral ad hoc integrado por cinco prestigiosos juristas.

La reacción de China frente a la solicitud de establecimiento de un tribunal arbitral ha sido siempre de rechazo absoluto. Desde un principio, las autoridades chinas comunicaron que no aceptarían ni participarían en el arbitraje unilateralmente iniciado por Filipinas, ni siquiera con el fin de objetar la competencia del tribunal arbitral para decidir el caso.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’été s’annonce orageux en mer de Chine méridionale. Cet espace hautement stratégique, par lequel transite près de la moitié du trafic maritime mondial, est âprement disputé depuis quelques années. Pas moins de six États - Chine, Vietnam, Malaisie, Brunei, Philippines, Taïwan - revendiquent des droits souverains sur son sol, sous-sol et ses eaux surjacentes. Leurs prétentions sont principalement fondées sur la Convention des Nations Unies sur le droit de la mer de 1982 (CNUDM), aujourd’hui ratifiée par 167 États, dont ceux en litige, sauf Taïwan. La Chine considère toutefois que des titres historiques séculaires lui permettraient d’étendre ses droits bien au-delà des 200 milles marins (370,4 km) prévus par la convention.…  Seguir leyendo »

A ruling from The Hague next week on maritime disputes in the South China Sea is likely to exacerbate frictions between China and the U.S. Both would be better off respecting the central role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Expecting an unfavorable decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippines’ challenge to its extensive maritime claims, China has intensified its long-held policy of divide-and-rule to prevent ASEAN from closing ranks behind the legal process.

At a meeting in Kunming last month, Beijing managed to force the ten members of ASEAN to recall a jointly agreed statement which expressed “serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence” in the South China Sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

A vendor in Beijing stands behind a map including an insert depicting the 'nine-dash line' in the South China Sea. Photo by Getty Images.

It is tempting to read China's refusal in this case to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal in The Hague as the defiance of an arrogant superpower that views itself as above international law. No doubt many in Manila, Washington and elsewhere are purveying this view. But there is more here than meets the eye.

For decades, Beijing has complained that the global order was forged in an era when China was weak and the rules of the game are rigged against it.

But this lament is more difficult to sustain in relation to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China helped negotiate in the 1970s and early 1980s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dictatorial regimes are subjecting the democratic West to two spectacles of weakness: the seeming inability to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine and to counter China’s aggression in the South China Sea. In both cases, a failure to respond will only invite a greater challenge and the specter of war.

While the Obama administration and our NATO allies are still struggling to begin to comprehend the stark reordering of national priorities and strategic relations with Russia required to deter Vladimir Putin’s ethno-imperialist ambitions, deterring China today may be as simple as giving a long-standing ally four helicopters.

If the United States is to be serious about deterring Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, international aid is flowing to the Philippines. The United Nations released $25 million from an emergency fund and the United States pledged $20 million in immediate relief. But, for the moment at least, precious little assistance is coming from the region’s behemoth. The Chinese authorities announced a paltry $100,000 in humanitarian aid (along with another $100,000 via the Red Cross Society of China). Beijing’s cold shoulder fits with a broader diplomatic isolation of Manila, which China has shepherded. In recent months, China’s foreign minister has met with all 10 counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member-states — except the Philippines.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beijing and Manila continue their increasingly shrill propaganda war over the South China Sea with each accusing the other of violating prior agreements and provoking tensions. What is going on and what are the possible outcomes of this dispute — and their implications?

Over the past few years, the Philippines and China have engaged in a series of increasingly dangerous incidents stemming from their conflicting claims in the South China Sea. On Jan. 22, a potential watershed date in the politics of the South China Sea, the Philippines, with tacit U.S. support, filed a complaint against China with the Law of the Sea’s dispute settlement mechanism — the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea based in Hamburg, Germany.…  Seguir leyendo »

In late January, the government of the Philippines served official notice that it plans to bring China before an arbitral tribunal over the latter’s persistent violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — the multilateral treaty that serves as the touchstone for much of the world’s behavior on the high seas. The move garnered only limited media coverage, but it provides a telling snapshot of the struggle that is now under way for the shape of Asia.

The basis of Manila’s complaint, which was filed on Jan. 22, is straightforward. China and the Philippines are both signatories to the Law of the Sea treaty, which codifies internationally recognized parameters for the demarcation of territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.…  Seguir leyendo »

When China ratified the United Nations law of the sea treaty in 1996, it was hailed as an important step toward stability and peaceful settlement of disputes in East Asia’s vast, valuable but conflict-riven offshore zone.

So the recent move by the Philippines to turn to the U.N. for a ruling on whether China’s sweeping claims to ownership and control over nearly all of the South China Sea in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia is in line with the 1982 treaty seemed like a perfectly law-abiding step.

But China’s Xinhua news agency said the Philippines’ referring the issue to a U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month’s maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea isn’t the first time the region’s navies have gone toe-to-toe. But while past tensions revolved around resources under the ocean floor, this most recent event is part of a growing strategic rivalry pitting Chinese power against the United States and its East Asian allies. How Washington responds may determine the prospects for continued peace in the Pacific.

The latest crisis arose after the pocket-size Philippine Navy, with an old United States Coast Guard cutter as its new flagship, tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen it claimed were operating illegally near the Scarborough Shoal.…  Seguir leyendo »