December 15, 2014 was the deadline for Beijing to formally file a written response to the arbitration case the Philippines filed against her under UNCLOS. She chose to ignore it.
Instead, she publicly announced her "legal arguments” to the court of public opinion last week.
Which is the international due process equivalent of choosing to rant in a public park with a megaphone instead of appearing under oath in front of a judge.
Which did not really come as a surprise to the international community.
It is common knowledge that Beijing's claims in the South China Sea have no basis at all in international law.
Its claim of "ancient historical rights" over the entire South China Sea will quickly unravel the moment legal experts try to trace back Chinese history - and point out the obvious fact that the current Chinese Republic was only born in 1911. Before that, China was ruled by the Manchurian Chings. A race of people which is not only not Chinese, but has virtually been culturally “erased” in present-day Chinese life (and is maybe a hint to the peoples of Southeast Asia on the fate that awaits them should they fall under the control of Beijing too).
This will be further compounded by the fact that, in the 300 or so years the Manchurian Chings ruled China, they have never made any claim of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. Nor does it appear in any Manhurian Ching map that the entire South China Sea is part of Manchurian China.
Which again is not surprising. The Manchurian Chings were no fools. If they publicly made that claim, they would have been the butt of ridicule of the European Powers - whose navies ruled the waves at that time. And who, in the first place, were the ones who named these waters “South China Sea”. Not the Manchurian Chings or any other previous rulers of China. Ethnic Chinese or otherwise.
So this snub by Beijing of the Hague-based UNCLOS arbitration tribunal is really a big moral and psychological victory for the Philippines. Avoidance is always associated with guilt in any arbitration situation.
But more importantly, it demonstrates to the whole world that Beijing substantially marches to the beat of its own drum. And merely pays lip service to international laws and agreements which she is a party to.
She will take what she wants. And it is either her way or the highway!
The Gentle Giant Panda is in reality a Honey Badger…