THREAD: Since there's no background context provided here, I shall chip in to dispel the notion that the SCS arbitration brought forth by then Aquino Administration against Beijing in 2013 is "destabilizing" as claimed here.
Scarborough Shoal falls within Philippine EEZ. Due to its capacity shortfalls in enforcing fishery protection, Manila's enforcement in the shoal against foreign fishermen operating there had at best been intermittent throughout the decades. 1/
If one bothers to catalogue the instances of maritime activities in Scarborough Shoal, it's possible to uncover instances where PH maritime forces managed to apprehend PRC fishermen in the shoal. Beijing would protest but nothing more than that. 2/
This has been the situation until the recent decade, simply because Beijing managed to beef up its maritime forces to an appreciable strength that finally allows it to challenge PH (and for that matter, other SCS rivals') maritime law enforcement against its fishermen. 3/
So in April 2012, the PH Navy did the usual thing by apprehending a group of PRC fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, PRC maritime forces intervened and compelled the former to release the fishers. Under a US-brokered truce, both PH and PRC were supposed to withdraw from the shoal. 4/
Shortly after pulled their forces from the shoal, Beijing reneged on the truce. It ordered PRC maritime forces to quickly return to the shoal, seizing station and thereafter blocking PH assets from retaking control. This de facto occupation by PRC continues till present times. 5/
Manila exhausted bilateral diplomatic channels to get Beijing to pull out its forces from the shoal. ASEAN as usual didn't help matters. Not that it structurally could do that anyway. And months after the Scarborough Shoal incident, ASEAN failed to issue the joint communique. 6/
UNCLOS carries a provision mandating dispute settlement by concerned parties. Having exhausted bilateral, and ASEAN track, to address this incident, Manila saw it contingent to lodge the arbitration case against Beijing. Of course, US Govt helped in this regard. 7/
The arbitration process is designed to clarify important issues related to, but not resolve, the SCS disputes itself. One such important issue the arbitration panel was tasked to look into is to clarify the status of features that determine maritime zone entitlements. 8/
Beijing could have participated in the proceedings if it felt it has a strong counter against Manila's case. But it adamantly refused to, and even smeared the integrity of panel members in blatant disrespect to UNCLOS, the very instrument it is a Party to. 9/
So Beijing failed to participate as promised, but the panel nevertheless took into account the position papers it published in the deliberation prior to issuing the award. The due legal process per UNCLOS provisions was followed, but Beijing refuses to recognize or adhere. 10/
Hence, it really struck me in what way is resorting to a due legal process granted by UNCLOS a "destabilizing" move? If anything, we do have Aquino Administration to thank for sticking its neck out, and through this arbitration award, helped clarify matters for everyone. 11/
The award issued on 12 July 2016 will come in handy for future dispute settlement in the SCS, whether bilaterally or multilaterally. It's also a manifestation of rule of law in SCS, helping to magnify the importance of UNCLOS as the basis for eventual resolution of SCS rows. 12/
On the contrary, Beijing continues to destabilize the SCS and thumbs its nose at the award. Having been trounced by the award, these days you can hear noises from Beijing complaining about UNCLOS being a "Western construct" that needs to be revamped. 13/
And of course, Beijing conveniently omits mention that several Asian countries had been instrumental in shaping proceedings leading up to promulgation of UNCLOS in 1982. To condemn the convention as "Western construct" is dismissive of Asian contributions, and self-serving. 14/
Every country concerned about rules-based order in the SCS should be concerned about Beijing's attempt to undermine UNCLOS and the SCS arbitration award. By not showing concern and taking appropriate action, we concede might over right in the SCS as order of the day. 15/
Beijing has long resented its fishermen being apprehended in SCS rivals' EEZs that overlapped into its illegal 9DL claims, and it could only fume back then because it had no appropriate means to challenge those actions. So now its break has come with its maritime buildup. 16/
In a conference I attended some years back, a PLA official proclaimed that: "Back then, we didn't have the means to respond when Southeast Asian governments caught our fishermen. But now, we've strong navy and coastguard, we'll not sit idle anymore." 17/
So clearly, with its maritime forces being built up and those artificial island outposts in place, Beijing completely altered the status quo in the SCS. Its irredentism and aggressive posture in the SCS, which privileges might over right, is what truly destabilizes the area. END

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