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Why is China insisting on bilateral negotiations that have not been working?

by on Jul.30, 2016, under Posts>Opinions>Politics>World Affairs>Asia>South China Sea

The Philippines had negotiated with China over their South China Sea disputes for many years before going to court. It is very obvious that bilateral negotiations have not been working for them. So why is China still insisting on having bilateral negotiations rather than accepting arbitration?

The answer is very simple. Arbitration results are beyond China’s control.

Bilateral negotiations sound like a good way to resolve disputes when compared to armed conflicts. But bilateral negotiations work only when both parties in the negotiations are willing to compromise. They do not work when one party is not willing to compromise and insists that something is not negotiable.

When bilateral negotiations fail, that is when arbitration is needed.

Another problem with China’s insistence that bilateral negotiation is the only way to resolve disputes is that while negotiations are ongoing, China does not stop activities in the disputed territory that may need to stop because, as long as no results come from the negotiations, China still has “indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed territory. So if bilateral negotiations never come to a conclusion, China can do whatever in the disputed territory forever. That will give China the incentive to never compromise in the negotiations and let them fail.

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