South China Sea Watch No. 4

South China Sea Watch No. 4
Photo Credit: AP / 達志影像

What you need to know

An overview of the past week's key developments in the South China Sea.

In an apparent response to the international arbitration decision, which denied the legality of China’s territorial claims in the South China, China conducted military drills in the region July 19-21, China Radio International reported. Meanwhile the Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unveiled new weapons for air and sea combat on state television, the South China Morning Post reported on July 22.

Some Chinese posted videos online asking, “South China Sea arbitration, who cares?” Chinese nationalists have called for boycotts of the American fast food chain KFC, while some have smashed Apple iPhones in protest, USA Today wrote. The popularity of protests against American brands in China have led the Chinese authorities to warn citizens against illegal assembly and demonstrations, Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Despite the political tensions, Chinese tourism in the region looks set to increase. On July 21, a Chinese firm already operating cruise tours to the disputed waters announced plans to procure up to eight more ships as it expands operations. The firm also plans to build four cruise liner docks in the southern Hainan Province.

China has long advocated for bilateral negotiations to mediate the South China Sea dispute, but on July 19 the Philippines looks to have turned down such an offer.

Philippine foreign minister Perfecto Yasay said the preconditions China set for bilateral discussions was unacceptable, Reuters reported. Yasay said China insisted that negotiations would not touch on the Hague ruling, which was “not in the Philippines’ national interests.”

On July 22, Yasay announced he will discuss developments in the South China Sea in an ASEAN meeting this weekend, PhilStar reported. This move is in line with a previous call from Singapore and other countries in the region for ASEAN to play a role in resolving the South China Sea dispute.

On July 20, a group of 30 Taiwanese legislators and fishermen landed at Taiping Island to reaffirm Taiwanese sovereignty, the South China Morning Post wrote. The eight legislators arrived on a military transport plane, while the fishermen sailed there in a flotilla. The legislators arranged the visit to protest against what they saw as insufficient action from the new Taiwan government, reports Central News Agency. The delegation was led by Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣). The News Lens International's op-ed on the matter.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole