EU’s statement on South China Sea reflects divisions

Chinese ships are seen during a search and rescue exercise near Qilian Yu subgroup in the Paracel Islands, which is known in China as Xisha Islands, South China Sea, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese ships are seen during a search and rescue exercise near Qilian Yu subgroup in the Paracel Islands, which is known in China as Xisha Islands, South China Sea, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

The European Union issued a statement on Friday noting China’s legal defeat over the South China Sea but avoided direct reference to Beijing, reflecting discord among EU governments over how strongly to respond to the court ruling.

While the European Union is neutral in China’s dispute with its Asian neighbors in the South China Sea, Britain, France and Germany want to make clear that Beijing must uphold international law as it seeks a bigger global role.

But speaking with one European voice has become difficult as some smaller governments, including Hungary and Greece, rely on Chinese investment and are unwilling to criticize Beijing despite its militarization of South China Sea islands.

Croatia and Slovenia have their own maritime dispute and are worried about setting precedents by coming out too strongly in favor or against the court in The Hague that ruled on the South China Sea case, the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In the statement of all 28 EU governments, the bloc acknowledged Tuesday’s ruling in The Hague and said it was “committed to maintaining a legal order of the seas and oceans.”

After three days of difficult talks in Brussels to reach a common position, the European Union said all sides should resolve the maritime dispute “through peaceful means, to clarify their claims and pursue them in respect and in accordance with international law.”

EU governments said they supported a “swift conclusion” on talks for a so-called code of conduct for the South China Sea, a vital waterway through which $5 trillion of trade passes a year.

In the case brought by the Philippines, the court ruled on Tuesday that Beijing’s claim to 85 percent of the sea violated Manila’s economic and sovereign rights under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The United States and Japan responded by urging China to respect the court’s decision. China has refused to recognize it.

“It is not easy to speak with one voice,” said a senior EU diplomat. “We have no issue with a peaceful settlement, but the way we phrase the statement is very sensitive.”

Beijing’s envoy to Washington said the verdict would “intensify conflict and even confrontation”, though he said Beijing remained committed to negotiations in disputes over the vital trade route.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Janet Lawrence)


8 Comments on “EU’s statement on South China Sea reflects divisions”

  1. Brexit says:

    “Britain, France, and Germany?”

    That’s very funny. The Brexit vote didn’t make Britain very popular among the Eastern Europeans. No wonder they voted against.


  2. johnleecan says:

    The EU has their own problems and they still release these absurd statements.

    The terror attacks happening in Europe are the projects of EU so they can impose more restrictive laws. Referendum leaving EU will not be allowed. Their reason is the people don’t know what is good or bad for them so they can’t decide for themselves. So much for democracy.

    Yet, EU will disintegrate. These terror attacks will divide the EU. Muslims are preparing for more attacks. Egg on and sponsored by EU, these Muslims haven’t have the slightest clue it is the EU that is sponsoring them. Citizens will rise up and retaliate against all Muslims in their country. Hell will break loose and governments will be left with a racial and religious war.

    The elitist will be watching at the sidelines, enjoying the killings of their citizens without sacrificing their security forces. When they think the substantially reduced population can now be contained, that is the time they will intervene.


  3. Simon says:

    “Uphold international law” when the PCA is not even a court of law and never intend to act impartially. It has no authority and acted completely illegally.


    • Steve says:

      One sided arbitration, still the EU and Western Powers are ramping up provocations under the cloak of the PCA ruling against China. How do you see the foreseeable future of China in the next 12 months.? Tough times ahead.


      • Simon says:

        Tough times for EU. It is breaking up. They are in China to broker deals.

        Next 12 months is an opportunity for China to prop up its miltary might and any provocation will be met with excuse for China to respond militarily. I expect America and its allies to be very pacif that is if they are wise. Any escalation by the yanks and its lackies will be met with more Chinese enforcement which include ADIZ, reclamation of more islands in SCS, commercialisation of islands, militarisation of Chinese islands and denial of right of overflight and sail in SCS without China’s permission to hostile nations.
        Once Chinese islands are fully militarised China can affectively patrol and defend the entire SCS as they see fit.


        • Steve says:

          Whoa Simon, slow down a bit..the SCS engineered islands are still weak and not strong enough for an ADIZ, but yes, it needs to be militarised and fortified. Agree, that China should expand island construction, but Huangyan island may now pose a problem. According to Aquino, due to a bilateral agreement between US/PH, the US is now obligated to defend the Huangyan island should China decide to occupy. How true it is, time will tell because if Duterte decides to play hardball, China really need to do something on Huangyan island. Its a strategic location and will definitely enrage the PH.