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China urged to go to court for territorial disputes

Tommy Koh makes call as he wins Harvard's top negotiator award

Published on Apr 12, 2014 10:47 AM
Prof Koh (right) receiving the Great Negotiator Award from Professor Jim Sebenius, a negotiations expert at Harvard Business School. The award recognises his contribution to maritime law, among others. -- ST PHOTO: JEREMY AU YONG

CHINA can send a clear signal that its rise will be a peaceful one by reconsidering its current objection to submitting territorial disputes to international courts.

Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh yesterday appealed to China to turn to the courts for at least some of its current disagreements with its neighbours, saying it would allay fears that these countries have over its ascendancy.

"To do so would give substance to the Chinese doctrine that your rise in the world will be a peaceful one," said Professor Koh at a dialogue at Harvard University on Thursday.

He had been asked by veteran United States diplomat Nicholas Burns for his comments on various territorial spats in Asia, and he gave a broad sweep of the context of the disputes as well as the options that lay ahead.

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Background story


I am not a great negotiator. I have never won a negotiation with my wife.

- Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, at the award dinner