I have written a short piece for the South China Morning Post, which outlines how China may react to the arbitral tribunal’s award next week.
I make three points:
1. The role of the tribunal in the South China Sea disputes is limited. The tribunal cannot rule on questions of disputed sovereignty of the islands and rocks in the Spratlys and it cannot rule on any maritime boundary delimitation disputes based on these disputed rocks and reefs.
2. The ruling itself, which covers 15 claims or submissions, is likely to be mixed and complex. It will likely favor the Philippines, but not be a “slam dunk.” The legal reasoning behind each judgment will be as important as the final decision itself.
3. China will calibrate its response not only in light of the content of the award but also in response to efforts by other states to compel it to accept the tribunal’s judgment.
Read the full piece here.