The ongoing ruckus between Manila and Beijing over Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea exposes China’s penchant for bullying and contempt for international law. This gives other countries that have territorial disputes with Beijing, including Japan, an idea of the standoffs they might expect with China in the future.
There should be no other way to resolve this territorial dispute except through a rules-based diplomatic mechanism, preferably adjudication by international tribunals. This is exactly what Manila proposes, which Beijing wantonly rejects.
While other Asian countries may have political and economic ties with Beijing, they must balance this with the greater idea of reminding China that it has an obligation to respect international law. Therefore, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should join calls by the Philippines, the United States, India and Australia for China to agree to resolve these disputes through international law, such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and its associated arbitration mechanisms.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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