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A welcome ceremony for Adm. John Richardson, chief of U.S. naval operations, at the Chinese navy's headquarters, Beijing, July 18, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

After Much-Awaited Judgment Day, What’s Next in the South China Sea?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued a resounding ruling that was three years in the making. In early 2013, the Philippines brought a case to the tribunal against China, contesting many of Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines asked the tribunal to reject China’s claims based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both Beijing and Manila have signed.

The Philippines was widely expected to prevail in the judgment, despite the fact that China has refused to participate in the tribunal’s proceedings and had given advanced notice that it would not comply. What most did not expect was that the Philippines would win nearly everything that it asked for in an unequivocal decision rejecting China’s economic and historical claims and its island-building activities. The ruling, which is legally binding on both parties, is sure to be a bedrock of maritime law for decades to come. ...

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