Chinese Construction Intended to Undermine Arbitration Process
As The Philippines seems poised to achieve an arbitration victory against China is the disputed areas of the South China Sea that have seen aggressive Chinese presence over the last few years, China has embarked on large-scale reclamation projects in many of the disputed territories in order to make an arbitration order in favor of The Philippines little more than a “paper victory.”
The dispute centers on China’s claim of sovereignty over more or less the entire South China Sea, despite long-standing claims by several other countries bordering the ocean, prompting The Philippines to file an arbitration claim with in the Netherlands. China has rejected arbitration as a process and has insisted that bilateral talks between the nations are the only viable way of settling the issue. However, The Philippines believes that they lack the resources to go head-to-head with China, and have thus relied upon international assistance through the formal arbitration process.
The South China Sea is one of the busiest shopping areas in the world and of extreme economic and military importance. China has recently been shown via satellite images to be engaged in massive dredging projects that are increasing the size of islands in the sea, allowing for larger-scale construction including runways and military installations, sparking fears that China is seeking to render arbitration ineffective due to a strong and permanent military presence on the islands. While international efforts are seeking to keep the dispute peaceful, China appears to be willing to spark a conflict in order to establish their claim.