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Opinion
 
Raul Dancel, Philippines Correspondent in Manila

High stakes for Philippines in its legal fight with China

Published on Apr 17, 2014 7:02 AM
 
Philippine marines gesturing at a Chinese coast guard vessel in the South China Sea last month. A loss for the Philippines in challenging China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea could diminish the legal grounds on which the claims of Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei stand. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

As far as diplomatic gambits go, the stakes don't get any higher than the Philippines' decision to challenge China's contentious South China Sea territorial claims at a United Nations tribunal.

The 4,000-page plea that Manila filed before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on March 30 essentially argues that China's claims - based on the "nine-dash line", a map which suggests that Beijing controls 90 per cent of the South China Sea - are "exaggerated" and "illegal".

Beijing has said it will not be a party to the case, and has argued that unless it agrees to participate, the arbitration court should not even be entertaining the Philippines' case.

The legal wrangling surrounding the case is expected to play out for at least two years. But what is immediately clear is that the Philippines cannot afford to lose this one because the consequences could be severe.

 
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