US Lacks Common Sense in Dealing with South China Sea Disputes

China's H-6K bomber conducting combat patrols at Scarborough Shoal

China’s H-6K bomber conducting combat patrols at Scarborough Shoal

Reuters says in its report today titled “U.S. diplomatic strategy on South China Sea appears to founder”, “In the lead-up to an international court ruling on China’s claims in the South China Sea this month, United States officials talked about rallying a coalition to impose ‘terrible’ costs to Beijing’s international reputation if flouted the court’s decision.

“But just two weeks after the July 12 announcement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague – which at least on paper, appeared to be a humiliating defeat for China – the U.S. strategy appears to be unraveling and the court’s ruling is in danger of becoming irrelevant.”

Reuters feels sorry as it has been one of the media that has tried hard to make readers believe that Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (PCA) ruling is legally binding and may cause great damage to China’s reputation.

It has kept on describing PCA as a UN-backed agency in disregard of UN clarification that PCA is not though it is located in the same building as that UN agency the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is located at.

The US, as well as Reuters, lacks the common sense that a country’s historical claims to sovereignty, rights and interests can never be deprived by the ruling of an international court, not even by the ICJ and not even by a UN resolution adopted unanimously by all other nations (in fact, the UN would never have adopted such a stupid resolution).

The ruling can only lead to war as even a small nation cannot accept it. What about a small region that depends on US support for survival such as Taiwan? The ruling denies Taiwan’s right to the exclusive economic zone around its Taiping Island. Taiwan responds by sending warship to patrol the zone it claims to protect its rights.

That means if Philippine navy tries to enforce the ruling on the zone, Taiwan will fight.

China responds even stronger. Its air force begins regular combat patrol of the South China Sea to deal with any provocation caused by the ruling. Chinese air force publishes a photo of China’s H-6K bomber patrolling Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) loaded with anti-ship missiles.

The US, as well as Reuters, is so stupid as to believe that China, if rejects the ruling, will respond by the establishment of an air defense identification zone or reclamation on Scarborough Shoal. No, that is far from being strong enough. In such a dispute, if one side entirely deprives the other side of its claims, the only consequence is war. Even if the other side is weak or defeated in the war, it will retaliate later when it has grown strong.

Now, China is strong enough to conduct combat patrol of the area it claims with its fighter jets, fighters/bombers, strategic bombers, reconnaissance warplanes and aerial tanks. Chinese navy commander has told his US counterpart that Chinese navy is ready to fight to safeguard China’s sovereignty, rights and interests. US threat with the enhanced presence of its navy proves useless

Who will support a ruling that leads to war?

No wonder, Reuters is disappointed in saying, “Yet after the international court rejected Beijing’s position, the U.S. calls for a united front appear to have made little headway, with only six countries joining Washington in insisting that the decision should be binding.”

Before the ruling, Reuters expressed doubt about China’s claim that 70 countries had supported China’s stance in rejecting the ruling and advocating bilateral talks. Like the US, Reuters believed that China’s reputation would have suffered seriously when it has rejected the ruling.

Both the US and Reuters have been surprised that only six countries have taken side with the US.

Why? The ruling goes to the extreme in entirely denying China’s historical rights. It is obviously unfair and biased so that China want to fight a war to protect its rights and few in the world want a war!

There will be no end of wars as proved by the century of wars between France and Germany over their border disputes that involved the whole world.

Chinese leaders are much wiser. They know war cannot bring about long-term solution though China can easily defeat the Philippines now. In spite of Philippines’ attempt to deprive China of all its claims, China has taken the initiative to ask the Philippines to resolve the disputes through bilateral talks.

They are careful not to upset the US so that they ask the US to back the talks.

Anyway, US officials have lost their credibility in predicting in vain the serious damage to China’s reputation. That is not a great problem as long as China does not oppose the presence of US navy in the South China Sea. The US does not lose face as China and ASEAN have concluded an agreement to ensure freedom of navigation, the alleged reason for the presence of US navy instead of containing China.

However, PCA has suffered greatly in its authority, credibility and reputation as its ruling proves it is unfair and biased and it lacks credibility and authority.

The US and the six countries that have taken side with the US will continue to support PCA and submit cases to it for arbitration, but China’s rejection has set a precedent for others to reject PCA ruling.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which can be viewed below:

U.S. diplomatic strategy on South China Sea appears to founder

In the lead-up to an international court ruling on China’s claims in the South China Sea this month, United States officials talked about rallying a coalition to impose “terrible” costs to Beijing’s international reputation if flouted the court’s decision.

But just two weeks after the July 12 announcement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague – which at least on paper, appeared to be a humiliating defeat for China – the U.S. strategy appears to be unraveling and the court’s ruling is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials spoke repeatedly of the need for countries in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, including the European Union, to make it clear that the decision of the court should be binding.

“We need to be ready to be very loud and vocal, in harmony together … to say that this is international law, this is incredibly important, it is binding on all parties,” Amy Searight, the then-U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said in February.

Then in April, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China risked “terrible” damage to its reputation if it ignored The Hague’s ruling.

The top lawyer from the Philippines, which brought the case against China, even said Beijing risked “outlaw” status.

The United States had backed Manila’s case on the grounds that China’s claims to 85 percent of the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes, were a threat to freedom of navigation and international law.

Yet after the international court rejected Beijing’s position, the U.S. calls for a united front appear to have made little headway, with only six countries joining Washington in insisting that the decision should be binding.

They include the Philippines, but not several other countries with their own claims to parts of the South China Sea that might benefit if Beijing observed the decision.

China also scored a major diplomatic victory earlier this week, when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dropped any reference to the ruling from a joint statement at the end of a meeting of the 10-country group’s foreign minister in Laos. This followed objections from Cambodia, Beijing’s closest ASEAN ally.

On July 15, the European Union, distracted after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc, issued a statement taking note of the ruling, but avoiding direct reference to Beijing or any assertion that the decision was binding.


On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed satisfaction that ASEAN had issued a communique that championed the rule of law and said the omission of any reference to the arbitration case did not detract from its importance.

He also said it was “impossible” for the ruling to become irrelevant because it is legally binding.

But analysts said it now risks exactly that, not least because Washington has failed to press the issue effectively with its friends and allies.

“We should all be worried that this case is going to go down as nothing more than a footnote because its impact was only as strong as the international community was going to make it,” said Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.

“And the international community has voted by not saying anything. The consensus seems to be ‘We don’t care. We don’t want to hold China to these standards.'”

Dean Cheng, an expert on China with the Heritage Foundation think-tank, said Washington appeared reluctant to push a tougher line with Beijing – a vital economic partner as well as a strategic rival – with only a few months to go in President Barack Obama’s tenure and a presidential election in November.

“What we have is China pushing very hard into the South China Sea, physically, politically, illegally and diplomatically, and the United States refraining from doing very much at all,” said Cheng.

One reason for the administration’s relative passivity may be its desire to prevent any major escalation of the dispute after the ruling, including further land reclamation by China or the declaration of a new air defense identification zone.

China has so far responded only with sharpened rhetoric, but analysts and officials worry that Beijing might take bolder action after it hosts the Group of 20 meeting of the world’s biggest economies in September.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; editing by G Crosse)


5 Comments on “US Lacks Common Sense in Dealing with South China Sea Disputes”

  1. Steve says:

    Great Post, well elaborated


  2. alking1957 says:

    The US lack commom sense in so many areas, not just the SCS issue. Did the iraq invasion made common sense? What about toppling ukraine president in ukraine to turn it into a failed state as well as pissing off Russia? What about toppling Gaddafy even though he had several years ago got rid of WMDs? What about this nonsensical war on terror that just keep creating more and more terrorists and millions of refugees? These actions are all devoid of any common sense or common decency! The US only know one thing – military force. But it will fail when the target victim is not a weak country! The only reason China can resist the attempt to take away its sovereignty is because it is now strong enuf to resist! Thats the only saving grace. Thats the only reason why the US failed, it did not fail for any other reason!


    • James says:

      Do not think for a moment the western powers are stupid. They are conniving but not stupid. There is a purpose to their madness. All these never ending mayhem and conflicts is to keep others off balance. To keep those up and coming economies in a state of turmoil. But what they did not foresee was the “blowbacks” and push backs by powerful nations like Russia, China, Iran etc. It has now come to haunt them.
      There is an western agenda…make no mistake


  3. Simon says:

    China ask America to tell the Phillipines not avoid upsetting Washington but to humiliate the Phillipines saying that they have no authority to initaite talk and only told what to do by Westerners. Its also showing ASEAN and wider world that America not Phillpines is the one behind all the trouble in the SCS.


  4. Fre Okin says:

    The PCA is the biggest kangaroo court PH hire to try to fool the world. PCA is exposed as a bunched of Hired ‘judges’ speaking on behalf of PH/US. Reuters was caught at least twice with deceptive news reporting calling PCA a UN backed court where there is no such thing.

    I continue to shred PCA ‘Taiping is a rock’ verdict, showing there are many ways for sustainable economic activities. My latest examples here:

    In the case of those islands in the Spratlys, SURE, they can have Economic Life Easily. They can TRADE Coconuts, they can Trade Fishes processed there, even Guano if birds poop there often enough. Greenhouse vegetation, trade with neighboring islands. Sell Excess water to neighbors. Now these are economic activities, aren’t they? They can serve as a fantastic one of a kind touristy attraction. Let’s deliberately shipwreck Sierra Madre 2.0 there and make that into a touristy site! People are creative and can easily market them as something with economic activities that the PCA dim bulbs cannot imagine. What about the Isles of Man in the UK? Something like that as a Haven for business activities, special Off Shore banking privilege like say Labuan island in Malaysia near Sabah.

    So look at the UNCLOS rules carefully as I excerpted below: Human habitation you already say is possible. Economic Life you make an issue about I debunk clearly here it is Easy to do. So Taiping Island IS actually an Island, Not Rock since it Does NOT fail the UNLOS test. So are almost all the other islands in the Spratlys.

    “Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf”

    “I gave a couple more examples like using islands as small as Taiping Island and even smaller for service oriented economic activities. Just a couple more examples like having a teetered aerostat to give a near earth tourism to see curvature of earth, sky diving from that as well, like a flying man from edge of space which was done before. Also near earth launch pad space tourism. How about a time sharing condo there? How about a holiday getaway destination for nudists? Lots of stuff can be done other than extractive industries and they can be sustained easily. ”

    The Spratlys is a perfect place for all the possible economic scenarios I mentioned. If they are occupied by China, they will do better than the basic economic activities of VN, PH, even TW as China have superior technology.

    China or other countries can easily have a radio propaganda station there or just a cultural station to broadcast their music and educational materials. You don’t need more than a couple of people to have a radio station to go on the air. It doesn’t have to be government based radio station, just an AM/FM station paid by advertisement to reach certain audience. Even a Wimax internet relay station from satellite internet to share with neighboring islands. The flat surface ensure the Wimax signal can travel long distance, dozens of miles to reach neighboring communities, charge them for the service.

    Lots of things one can do with a tiny island for self sustaining economic activities. It is clear PCA judges live in ancient times. They use examples from underdeveloped countries to draw their wrong conclusion.

    By showing the dishonest verdict on Taiping Island as a rock, one can say the verdict on Nine Dash Line is a dishonest one as well, designed to embarrass China only, a legal mischief not based on law. Thus ASEANs have their common sense not to support PH and US legal lies.