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FASS Seminar by Dr Krista Wiegand

On 8 April 2017, Dr Krista E. Wiegand from University of Tennessee gave a FASS seminar entitled ‘Strategic Selection: Philippine Arbitration in the South China Sea Dispute’.

Both China and the Philippines claim territory in the South China Sea, and these conflicting claims can give rise to hostilities such as the Scarborough Shoals Incident in 2012.

In January 2013, the Philippines submitted a claim to the international Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), and in July 2016 the Tribunal found in favour of the Philippines.

We might ask why the Philippines submitted the claim to ITLOS, given that China was always likely to reject to outcome. Three explanations can be offered:

1) The Philippines wanted to counterbalance China’s military dominance in the region.

2) The policy was based on the personalised policy approach by President Aquino.

3) There was a high probability of winning.

The decision in favour of the Philippines gives the country some leverage in its dispute with China, especially now that President Duterte has adopted a more accommodating approach towards China than that of his predecessor, President Aquino.