In his July 17 op-ed, “GOP minds are at sea — the wrong one,” George F. Will correctly condemned China’s attempted annexations in the South China Sea and its refusal to abide by the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s verdict in favor of the Philippines. But his call on the United States to enforce the verdict was severely undercut by the fact that the decision was based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, a treaty the United States failed to ratify in 2012. Why? Because a majority of Senate Republicans refused to support it, saying it violated the same so-called conservative principles that Mr. Will has so vigorously championed.
Mike Lofgren, Alexandria
Regarding the July 14 editorial “A fateful choice for China”:
Without China’s consent, the arbitration initiated by the former government of the Philippines violates the practice in international law that arbitration be premised on each state’s consent. This tribunal exceeded its own jurisdiction. The issues are territorial disputes, which are not subject to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has made an optional exceptions declaration in accordance with UNCLOS and excluded issues such as maritime delimitation from processes such as this arbitration.
This arbitration case damaged international law and may open the door for abusing arbitration procedures, undermining the authority and effectiveness of international law. By rejecting the arbitration, China defends its interests and advocates international justice through the true spirit of international law.
Disturbingly, the arbitration was combined with military coercion. U.S. warships and warplanes in the South China Sea, a manifestation of “might is right,” escalated tensions and weakened diplomatic negotiation.
China has always maintained that negotiation and consultation are the most feasible and effective ways to resolve the South China Sea dispute. But the former government of the Philippines rejected this. China has resolved boundary issues with 12 of its 14 land neighbors and part of maritime delimitation in the Tonkin Gulf with Vietnam, an unmatched record. We have confidence in addressing the issue of the South China Sea by negotiation and consultation and hope the Philippines will return to the right track.
We hope the United States makes the right choice, refrains from provocative military operations, facilitates diplomatic efforts and doesn’t let this issue define the relationship between our nations.
Zhu Haiquan, Washington
The writer is press counselor and spokesman
for the Chinese Embassy.