Experts say court not the place to resolve South China Sea disputes
Updated: 2015-07-21 13:42
WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE - It is no easy for a court to decide on territorial disputes and Manila's move to take the South China Sea issue to an international tribunal is no more than a propaganda trick, foreign policy experts and regional politics observers said.
"The history regarding the South China Sea issue is complex and confusing and the merit of the respective claims is not likely to be resolvable in a simple black and white way," said Michael O'Hanlon, director of Research on Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.
The issue is more about politics than law, said O'Hanlon, adding that he favors a negotiated settlement instead of a court-based process.
Manila's request for arbitration is a strategic move, in order to attract attention and solicit supports for its claims, but a more realistic assessment is that there remains uncertainties in the jurisdiction decision of the tribunal, said Tseng Hui-Yi, research associate in the East Asian Institute in the National University of Singapore.
The expert believed there are signs indicating the tribunal is "fully aware of the complexity and politicized characteristic of the arbitration, and is very cautious in carrying out its missions".
As she sees it, the tribunal has doubts as to whether it has fully-justified jurisdiction over the case as it has decided to deal with jurisdiction before it goes into the merit part.