Philippines Must “Set the Tone” for Peaceful Resolution of China Dispute

Now that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China over sovereignty in the South China Sea, Manila should immediately set the tone of what is to follow. In the days ahead, the country should continue to advocate that all states, including China, must abide by the terms of the ruling and that all claimants should avoid any activity that could worsen tensions in the region. It’s good that many countries have already indicated their support for the arbitration process and for the peaceful resolution of the disputes.

The Philippines should persist in this message, which is key to maintaining the current level of support and gaining the open support of more states. Manila’s strong commitment to upholding international law helped achieve the support it has today: an abrupt about-face would weaken its message and have friends questioning its resolve. Ultimately, working with others makes the Philippines best placed to shape the decisions that all claimants make in the near future.

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