REUTERS — WASHINGTON – In the lead-up to an international court ruling on China’s claims in the South China Sea early this month, United States officials had talked about rallying a coalition to impose “terrible” costs to Beijing’s international reputation if it flouted the court’s decision.
But just two weeks after the July 12 announcement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague – which at least on paper, appeared to be a humiliating defeat for China – the U.S. strategy appears to be unravelling and the court’s ruling is in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials spoke repeatedly of the need for countries in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere, including the European Union, to make it clear that the decision of the court should be binding.
“We need to be ready to be very loud and vocal, in harmony together … to say that this is international law, this is incredibly important, it is binding on all parties,” Amy Searight, the then-U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, said in February.
Then in April, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China risked “terrible” damage to its reputation if it ignored The Hague’s ruling.
• TAIWAN, A BYSTANDER VICTIM IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE — ASIA TIMES