Opinion / Editorials

Abe still peddling his own agenda

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-18 09:36

It is not the right time to be talking about "post-arbitration" just yet.

But, galvanized by Manila's sweeping "triumph" in its arbitration case, the Shinzo Abe administration of Japan is reportedly deliberating such an option for its disputes with Beijing in the East China Sea.

Throughout the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, against the theme of the event-Partnership for the Future through Connectivity-the Japanese leader went out of his way to rally participating countries to mount pressure on Beijing to "respect" the arbitral decision, though to little avail.

To make his case high-sounding, Abe resorted to his customary tactic of what is known to the Chinese as "stealing the beams and pillars and replacing them with rotten timbers".

The rule of law is "a universal principle that the international community must firmly maintain", he argued. So he "strongly hopes the parties to the dispute comply with the award and lead to a peaceful solution of the dispute in South China Sea".

Which sounded impeccable, but had an obvious logical fraud: He confused the rule of international law with this specific award, although they are intrinsically different.

His argument would have been more convincing had it concluded with a categorical call for "respecting", or "abiding by", universal international law, as the summit's final document did.

As Beijing has repeatedly stated, each and every step it has taken thus far is in compliance with international law and practice. And it is out of respect for and commitment to international law that it has refused to accept and acknowledge the arbitral award.

Contrary to the notion Tokyo is tirelessly peddling, this is not a headstrong China flexing its muscles against the existing world order. It is rather a wronged party's justified fight for justice, against the outrageous abuse of international law.

The arbitral panel disregarded due procedure in accepting the unilaterally initiated case, acted ultra vires in affirming its jurisdiction. And most ridiculous of all, it turned out to be incapable even of distinguishing an island from a reef.

It does not take an expert in international maritime law to see the abusive nature of the ruling.

As many have observed, a ruling like this is too biased to be credible, not to say executable. But that will hardly compromise its effect as a mighty shot in the arm for Abe and his like.

Abe talked with Vietnamese and Philippine officials during his "consensus-building" session on the sidelines of the ASEM summit, pledging to help boost maritime "law-enforcement".

It is certain he will not stop there.

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