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5 Implications Of The PHL Upholding The Arbitration Ruling Despite Being Friends With China

Things are a bit complicated
by Drei Medina | Oct 24, 2016
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The Malacañang Palace has announced over the weekend that the country will not be setting aside its favorable ruling on the South China Sea issue granted by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July.

This was its response to critics saying that the ongoing bilateral talks with China is a mistake, and in a sense plays down the historic decision on the longstanding maritime dispute.

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President Rodrigo Duterte recently pursued bilateral talks with China during his state visit there from October 18 to 21 where he bagged $24 billion worth of investments.

In turn, this move attracted negative feedback from critics who believed the president was acting in a position of weakness towards China despite the international court’s favorable ruling.

This also comes at a time when the Duterte administration is slowly veering the country away from the Unites States.

So what does this all mean given the country’s current situation? Below is an attempt to explain the moves probable effects.


1) The Philippines is not giving up its sovereignty

Despite its sudden shift to China, the country will stand by the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling favoring the Philippines in its maritime dispute with the former regarding the West Philippine Sea.

2) We’re not getting chummy with the Chinese, just yet

Although both countries have been warming up to each other lately, this doesn’t mean that the Philippines is ready to give its full trust to China.

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Not long ago, the two were at each others’ throats and the Philippines not dismissing the arbitration court’s favorable ruling shows it is still wary of its newfound partner.

3) It’s all a balancing act

With the president’s actions, it seems the Duterte administration wants to experience the best of both worlds by drifting away from the US while entertaining China in a balancing act that aims for the betterment of the country.

4) Power struggle

However, this might cause a power struggle in the Asian region if not managed well, especially since China has a maritime dispute not just with the Philippines but also with other neighboring countries like Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Non-claimant countries such as the US are also interested in keeping the South China Sea a body of international waters in light of freedom of navigation.

5) Calculated risk

What Duterte did can be considered as a calculated risk despite everything that recently transpired. He knows that things can fall apart with China down the road, but he also knows that
this move might lead to the forging of a great relationship between the two neighbors.

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The US, which is in a similar situation, might stay or go, but for now, only time will tell.

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