Cambodian scholar warns of regional tensions after ill-founded award on South China Sea arbitration
Xinhua, July 13, 2016
A prominent Cambodian scholar has warned of regional tensions after an ad hoc arbitral tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration case issued its final award.
The tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government issued its final award on Tuesday, amid a global chorus that the panel has no jurisdiction.
China, on the same day, said it neither accepts nor recognizes the award, which is "null and void and has no binding force," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Regional tensions are going to rise. It would be a mistake to calculate or assume that China will scale down its sovereign claims and activities in the South China Sea after the ruling," Chheang Vannarith, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an article published in the Khmer Times newspaper on Wednesday.
He said that the United States and its allies may have calculated that their military presence in the region would deter and restrain China's activities in the region and that the ruling would force China to retreat from asserting sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.
"They are wrong," he said.
"Having said that, the possibility of having a military confrontation between the two major powers remains extremely low," Vannarith said.
China and the United States need to develop a functional mechanism to build trust and confidence and they need to promote an effective channel of communication to avoid misperceptions and miscalculations, he said.
"Deepening economic interdependence is not enough. China and the U.S. must work together to strengthen military-to-military ties," he said.
"In the upcoming ASEAN meetings, the Philippines should not force other ASEAN members to issue a joint statement to support the court ruling, given there is no consensus within ASEAN," said Vannarith.
The viable values of ASEAN are the adherence to the principles of non-interference and consensus-based decision-making, he said, adding that violating these two principles could lead to the destruction of ASEAN. Endit