Past eventMembers

The South China Sea Arbitration: A Turning Point for China's Regional Policy?

13 July 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Chatham House London, UK


Ashley Townshend, Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney; Visiting Fellow, Center for Asia-Pacific Cooperation and Governance, Fudan University, Shanghai

Chair: Bill Hayton, Associate Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House



On 12 July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague releases its ruling in the case of the Philippines v China. The case, unilaterally brought by the Philippines, seeks to clarify whether China’s historic claims on the waters, seabed and maritime features of the South China Sea, as manifested by its so-called ‘nine-dash line’, are consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has publicly pledged neither to participate in nor accept the tribunal’s deliberations.

Our panel will look at the ruling and discuss what effect, if any, it might have on China’s policy towards its South China Sea neighbours. How will China respond to the judgement of the court? Might the ruling act as a spur to start meaningful bilateral or multilateral talks? And, with China denying the arbitral authority of the PCA, can there be any hope that international law might act to compel or guide the country’s foreign policy in the South China Sea?