The international tribunal ruling that China’s claims in the South China Sea – and many of the tactics it has employed to assert those claims – are illegal presents difficult challenges for all involved. For China, the choice is whether to modify its policies, or continue them in direct contravention of international law. The question for the Philippines, the United States and many other nations, meanwhile, will be how to respond in a way that supports the ruling and makes it more likely that China will choose to peacefully resolve the disputes.
It is important to understand the historic significance of Tuesday’s decision. For years, all countries with claims in the South China Sea have traded barbs and proclaimed the inviolability of their sovereignty in the South China Sea; Tuesday’s ruling has provided the first impartial, international legal decision on those disputes.This article was originally published in The Guardian.