Hague ruling may lead to US, China power play

Reported by Nikko Dizon / Inquirer.Net / July 12, 106

The decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague which will be released Tuesday is akin to the “beginning of an end,” a Filipino security expert said. “The case will end today but this will only be the start of an intensified power play between China and the US, the two opposing titans, eventually dwarfing the Philippines. And this will happen whoever wins in the case,” Chester Cabalza, a security expert and professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), told the INQUIRER on Monday afternoon.
Experts believe that Tuesday’s landmark ruling, which will be released at 5 p.m. local time, is likely to be in Manila’s favor.v“After the ruling comes out, whoever wins, it won’t be about the case anymore,” Cabalza said. He said it will all be about what the US and China would do next.vCabalza said that even before the ruling, both the US and China have already stepped up their information warfare. The two superpowers have also shown their military might.vCabalza also said whatever the decision of the arbitral court would be will test the mettle of President Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s chief diplomat, particularly his ability to morph into a regional leader. “This will be a litmus test for the President. The world will be watching us,” said Chester Cabalza.

Cabalza said indeed, Duterte and his Cabinet must study the decision of the arbitral tribunal very well, as their next steps in the dispute will have far-reaching implications.
“The decision will become key to unlocking alternative options for the new administration. It could either go for a convergence or cooperation in terms of diplomacy, economy, and defense, or it could opt for divergence,” Cabalza said.

Cabalza said that 2017 would particularly be significant, and challenging, for Duterte’s skills in diplomacy.

With the Philippines chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) next year, Manila will host the regional bloc’s 50th founding anniversary.

The Asean itself has grappled with the South China Sea maritime dispute, as four of its member nations have overlapping claims in the vast ocean where an estimated $5.3 million worth of trade passes.

These claimant countries are the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. Read more…

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