China presses their construction on the West Philippine Sea despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)’s ruling on July 12. While the decision rendered their actions illegal, China continues explicitly to express their opposition against the unfavorable outcome.
Wu Shengli, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, says that they will not cease their construction operations on the Nansha Islands (more commonly known as the Spratlys) “no matter what country or person applies pressure.”
In the years leading up to the ruling, China had begun to build militarized artificial islands in these disputed territories and have no intention of backing down now. According to Wu, China knows the Spratlys as “inherent territory” and claims that the developments are well within their bounds. The PCA, however, has made it clear that they have no legal basis and “have violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights on its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf”.
Tension continues to rise as China dismisses reminders from the US, Japan, and Australia on the impact of being in adherent to international laws. Even President Donald Tusk of the European Union has expressed their confidence in the decision of the PCA and that they will continue to “speak out in support of upholding international law”. Wu, however, says that Beijing is not intimidated and that any attempt to have China comply with the PCA’s ruling may only lead to confrontation.
China’s maritime administration announced that beginning Tuesday, they will be hosting military exercises and that entrance to the area was prohibited. They also said that more of these practices should be expected in the future.
After initial talks post-ruling, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. asked if the Filipinos could fish in Scarborough Shoal, the access to which is President Duterte’s top priority. The island has been restricted by Chinese coast guards since 2012 and was again reinforced two days after the court’s decision. Wang, Yasay’s counterpart, said that China could discuss the possibility as long as the conditions did not revolve around the PCA’s ruling.
As of now, the Philippines has opted to “let the dust settle” before continuing with negotiations. Despite continued pressure building up between the two nations, Yasay hopes that a peaceful outcome will prevail.