BEIJING – A day after the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an international court based in the Hague, ruled in favor of the Philippines for the South China Sea dispute, China responded by stating that it still had the right to protect its sovereignty within the region.

Furthermore, China blamed the Philippines for causing trouble in the region. The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhemin stated that “It is the Philippines that has created and stirred up the trouble”.

Additionally, Liu also made it clear that China had the right to set up air defense zone over the region if it wished to but whether China will setup such system will depend on the level of threat it faces within the territory.

China regards the South China Sea as its “inherent territory” and the islands within the region as one of its economic rights, while the Philippines as well as the US do not recognize as such.

Philippines argues that China is violating its maritime borders by building up artificial islands and disturbing its fishing and oiling industries. China strongly objects to this insisting that it had historic rights as the whole region had been an active site for Chinese activities for around 2,000 years.

President Xi Jinping of China stated that China will not succumb to the the court’s decision by clearly indicating that his country “will not accept” to the ruling.

The Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay on the other hand praised the court’s decision saying that it was a “milestone decision” within the long and troubled disputes over maritime borders around the world.

South China Sea is a strategically important area as it is rich in resources as well as being an important trade route with more than $5 trillion of world trade annually shipped through these waters alone.

This increased tension between China and the Philippines regarding the South China Sea is expected to extend into a bigger regional issue as other countries involved in the dispute such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei could also file for a ruling to the court.

The escalation of the dispute could then globally impact the world as the US has been cautious of the Chinese military presence in these troubled waters. For now it has yet to be seen how this dispute will ravel into a major political issue or lose its fire and remain an unresolved issue yet to be tackled.

Je Seung Lee, Correspondent (Asia: Far East)

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