China Arbitration Loser but Geopolitical Winner

Chinese navy chief Adm. Wu Shengli points his finger with anger in his meeting with US CNO Adm. John Richardson. Photo:

Chinese navy chief Adm. Wu Shengli points his finger with anger in his meeting with US CNO Adm. John Richardson. Photo from CNTV footage

Late at night of Jul 12 when the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague (PCA) issued its arbitration ruling, Hindustan Times published a report titled “If China defies tribunal without tangible loss, Beijing will be the winner”, saying “Though it lost on all legal fronts in the judgment of the international tribunal over its South China Sea claim, China may yet emerge geopolitically the winner.

“The reason: if Beijing suffers no material damage from defying the tribunal’s judgment, the lesson for Southeast Asia will be that the continent’s unipolar moment has arrived – and China is atop the pole.”

China indeed suffers no material damage not even intangible damage in reputation as only the US, Japan and Australia have urged China to respect the arbitrary ruling.

Even ASEAN has failed to issue a statement to urge China to respect the ruling though ASEAN leaders said in the joint statement of their summit with US President Obama that they “(s)hared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes”, in which legal processes certainly include PCA ruling. (See paragraph 7 of the joint statement and Channel News Asia’s report titled “ASEAN to keep mum on South China Sea ruling: Diplomats” at

EU has failed to issue a statement either to urge China to respect the ruling. A recent key summit between Asian and European leaders in Mongolia ended without direct mention of South China Sea dispute in its closing statement. (See Reuters’ report “EU’s silence on South China Sea ruling highlights inner discord” at

As a result, China has suffered no material damage in either economy or reputation from rejecting the ruling.

The US, however, is a big loser as it has a confidence crisis in Southeast Asia after the ruling. Before the ruling, the US had conducted busy diplomacy to win other Asian nations’ support for the US in urging China to submit to US pressure to respect the ruling.

In the face of China’s show of muscle and strong will to fight a war to safeguard its sovereignty and interests in disregard of the ruling, the US has been shocked and unable to take any counter actions. It fails to help the Philippines enforce the ruling. It sends two aircraft carrier battle groups to the South China Sea and says it will intensify its freedom of navigation operations there.

However, its warships have not come within 12 miles of China’s artificial islands, the areas China claims to be its territorial waters though the ruling has rejected China’s claim. The US sent its CNO Adm. John Richardson to visit China July 17-20 after the ruling but according to a report published by US Pacific Command, Adm. Richardson stresses cooperation with China instead of urging China to respect the ruling. (See the report titled “Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation” at

Chinese government’s mouthpiece Xinhua, however, says in its report on the meeting between Richardson and Chinese navy commander Wu Shengli that Adm. Richardson was told by Wu that China would never sacrifice its sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea as those are China’s “core interest” and concern the foundation of the Party’s governance, the country’s security and stability and the Chinese nation’s basic interests.

He was told by Wu that China would not recede over territorial sovereignty or fear any military provocation, that the Chinese navy is fully prepared to cope with military provocation and that China would never stop its construction of its artificial islands.

China’s official military forum even posted the above photo of Wu pointing his finger with anger during his meeting with Richardson.

China is conducting live-ammunition military drills in and near the South China Sea. It has even begun regular combat patrol with the strategic bombers, fighter jets, reconnaissance aircrafts, aerial tankers, etc. of its air force, which is obviously a stance of defiance much more serious than the establishment of an air defense identification zone.

ASEAN members have been scared by China’s threat of war and disappointed at US failure to stand up against China. No ASEAN members dare to urge China to respect the ruling, not even the Philippines. Philippine President Duterte called for restraint and plans to send a former president friendly to China to ask China to conduct negotiations to resolve the disputes.

As a result just as Hindustan Times said, “the continent’s unipolar moment has arrived – and China is atop the pole.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Hindustan Times’ report, full text of which can be viewed at

PLAN’s Wu to CNO Richardson: Beijing Won’t Stop South China Sea Island Building


11 Comments on “China Arbitration Loser but Geopolitical Winner”

  1. Simon says:

    China never actually lost an arbitration. I mean how can you lose an arbitration if you never took part in one? Last time I read the definition of “arbitration” is to make a compromise involving all parties concerned to finding a satisfactory solution. The PCA ruling lacks what is required of an “arbitration” because China chose not to be part of it and the case was wholey financed by the accuser the Phillipines, and beside tha fact it was trying to illegally represent the UN which the UN has rebuffed the PCA that it is not an agency therefore not fit for the purpose to represent the UN and neither legally binding under international law.


  2. johnleecan says:

    This from the South China Morning Post:

    In his first comments immediately after the ruling, Yasay said the Philippines had welcomed the decision but he did not urge China to respect or abide by it.

    Yasay called then only for “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety”.

    But on July 14, Yasay urged China to respect the ruling.

    Why? Because Filipinos like to show off. But when confronted, they’ll scream “Come help us, Uncle Sam! We’re choking on our testicles already.”


    • Steve says:

      In countries as in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma, Hongkong, they are known collectively as Eurasians. I have known a number of Eurasian friends and Yes, they do have an air about their blood kin. They like to call themselves Anglos or Saxons or Anglo Saxons which they are Not, because they are also known collectively as GASBAGS. They enjoy pumping the air thinking that they a have drop of anglo saxon blood, therefore purified.

      Burmese Eurasians are among the most confused. They actually introduce themselves as anglo saxons or anglo-burmese as being Apart of the local Burmese race. I did ask them, can an offspring from a Chinese/European descent call himself an anglo Chinese. They laugh and say No. I ask why.? They said that he won’t look right…This is a classical example of Gasbags or like you say Show off.


  3. Fre Okin says:

    The more people analyse the PCA ruling, the more they realise it is a Fraud, a political verdict trying to shame China. My comment in another forum explain how this fraud is exposed and the more people learn the facts, the less PH and US get support from the public.

    China should Rely More on Change in public perception that will favor her than doing more military exercise. Over the next few weeks, months, US and PH will be so shamed they got no choice but to let China do what she want to do. China should behave As If there is no PCA verdict and carry on business as usual. Continue harvesting fishes, oil/gas in the Spratlys and build up defense, all the while ignoring silly US FON.

    The focus should be on Jan 20 2017 when next US president is inaugurated. China should try to build up the Spratlys completely by then, with maximum defense deterrence and the next POTUS will not dare to make any further silly FON. Lame duck Obama basically lost control of USN and risk becoming a War President.

    “PH have no business bringing the Nine Dash Line into PCA. She can dispute Chinese claims to islands inside her 200 NM EEZ Only. Nothing else. It is obvious the excessive memorial 4000 + 3000 pages is designed to Distract the public from her own illegal squatting of the Spratlys. The fraud I have shown takes the form of Tomas Cloma who make a manufactured res nullis which result in PH having Thitu island and other parts of the Spratlys today.
    Nine Dash Line can only be disputed by a Class Action of all parties involved, not a Single Party PH. There is No legal precedent for One actor to file a complaint Outside her own interest which Ends in 200 NM EEZ.

    “Cloma and his associates decided to send an expedition to the territory he claimed. The farewell dinner, held on the 1st of March was attended by Vice President Garcia, Senator Lorenzo Tañada and Auditor-General Manuel Agregado. The Maritime Institute’s training ship left on a 38-day scheduled trip, with Captain Filemon Cloma, Tomas’ brother, in command.” Mar 1 1956

    Notice PH nationalist Carlos Garcia Senator, VP, President of PH sending him off? This is all a nationalist PInoy crowd using a chinoy as front to grab the Spratlys and this Cloma fella was framed by Marcos, dictator nationalist and forced to give Thitu island back to PH in 1978 “President Ferdinand Marcos, on June 11, 1978, formally annexed the Kalayaan Islands by virtue of Presidential Decree No.1596” “Kalayaan residents have also erected an imposing bust of Tomas Cloma on the island as a tribute to Kalayaan’s founder.”

    It is clear PH squat on the Spratlys. Spratlys is not part of PH when US give her independence on 4th July 1946. Her border is defined at that moment, not her imagined border based on her declaration of independence of June 12 1898 which is used to deceive Pinoys and the world. If her border include the Spratlys why don’t US defend PH Spratlys as per MDT 1951? See, US can do nothing when China take Mischief Reef. It is not covered by MDT.

    The designation of islands as rocks is a politically motivated decision not based on UNCLOS. There is No Legal Authority in UNCLOS that allow PCA to liberally make an Arbitrary determination of what constitute islands and what is not Even though the rocks like Taiping, Thitu islands Can sustain human life and economic activities. Who are they to make Artificial size determination to classify one as rock and others as island? Is there such a provision in UNCLOS?

    Some hidden forces at play, most likely US to prevent China having 200 NM EEZ around Each cluster of the Nine Dotted/Dash Line which will Vastly Expand her South China Sea jurisdiction. Taiwan, PH, even VN pay a price for this Legal Mischief. NOW China can come in and fish right up to their 12 NM and drain all the fishes from them.”


  4. Joseph says:

    Joe Biden lamented that no other country outside US, not even Australia and Japan, would even consider to ‘swarm’ 12nm of Chinese artificial islands. A rather stupid idea for a vice president to say, let alone for the vice president of the self-proclaimed the most powerful country in the world. Why would anyone, with their own cost, would do such meaningless things. Even if the American is willing to pay their cost, they should consider trade consequences with China.
    Ironic that even as US vice president Joe Biden declared that America and Australia ‘united’ as brothers in the Pacific, he still emphasized the importance of getting the best of talent picking, from China, to ramp up their defense R&D industry to get them the technological cutting edge advantage against China on SCS. As if American green card and Australian permanent residency still have values on smart Chinese. While Chinese with questionable background still value those green cards and permanent residency, those oucasts are hardly the best pick for talents. And those increasingly Chinese-hostile countries are no paradise even for their own citizens, let alone best-picked Chinese talents America and Australia may share common ancestry, but those common ancestry attributes obviously do not include talents, otherwise why they need to poach talents from their enemy.


    • interestedtoknowmore says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Can you tell me where he said this?

      “Ironic that even as US vice president Joe Biden declared that America and Australia ‘united’ as brothers in the Pacific, he still emphasized the importance of getting the best of talent picking, from China, to ramp up their defense R&D industry to get them the technological cutting edge advantage against China on SCS.”

      Thanks in advance.


  5. Steve says:

    I enjoyed this article especially the word UNIPOLAR and Admiral Wu FINGER POINTING. It appears Admiral Wu demonstrated his authority and position steadfastly, fiercely upholding China’s sovereignty claims over the SCS. With unipolarity, it clearly demonstrates that China is indeed the only supreme authority, militarily in the Asian region unrivalled. Actually, China is now in the position to enforce ‘gunboat diplomacy.’ Like giving ‘Angpows’ in the form of territories to littoral states during bilateral negotiations to solve the issue of sovereignty.

    Will US remain idle or inept not supporting the Philippines. Something has to happen otherwise US will lose credibility. US Vice President Joe Biden was in Australia this week and hinted to the Australian ministry and ex PMs that the US may intervene into the SCS dispute. He was in Australia on a whirlwind to gather support from Australia as a partner and alliance referring to the SCS. He stated that China must abide and respect the arbitral ruling. He was very proud to announce US military spending is greater than the next 8 nations combined and how powerful US military with the ability to project anywhere in the world.

    China’s confirmation of air patrol including jet fighters, reconnaissance, air tankers and bombers is the next closest scenario to real war combat. Hopefully, All will end well with no military conflict. But, will US sacrifice its soldiers for the sake of the Philippines over atolls and islands.?


    • Joseph says:

      Yeah. That Admiral Wu was scarier than lame Joe Biden delivering ‘blunt’ but empty threat that America never declined economically and militarily. All while he went to Australia, begging the Australian to defy China in the American stead, at Australian own cost, of course. If he did his job properly, he’d know that China kicked American butt on the Korean War, when the American were still at the height of its prime.


      • Steve says:

        Often than not, Joe Biden’s speeches are out of context. His audience comprise of Australian mothers, Kids, women, men, current & ex ministers. He talks about a war scenario regarding how powerful and effective the US ground troops in combat and that the US spends more in military development than the next combined 8 nations. The best thing he said in his speech is that he Loves Australia.