The Philippines and Vietnam’s Responses to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Final Award on the Arbitration Case Initiated by the Philippines Against China over the South China Sea (July 2016)

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In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) issued its final award on the South China Sea dispute between the Philippines and China that caught the attention of the international community. Since this was the first time that a claimant in the South China Sea had ever referred the case to an international juridical body in an effort to settle the dispute, the responses of both claimant and non-claimant stakeholders were awaited. Realising the relevance of the issue, I conduct a comparative study of the responses to the PCA’s final award to two major claimants with similar positions on the South China Sea—the Philippines and Vietnam. The main aim of this study is to indicate the similarities and/or differences in the way these two states responded to the final decisions of the PCA. The study finds that even though both the Philippines and Vietnam reacted to the award in a similar manner, the motives behind their responses were different. In general, the South China Sea policy of the Philippines has always been less consistent than that of Vietnam, which can be explained through each state’s foreign policy tendencies.

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