The Philippines v. China arbitration award has been praised as a landmark victory setting forth illuminating jurisprudence interpreting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS], but it has also been repeatedly excoriated as an “unenforceable” decision—a Pyrrhic victory—due to China’s repeated refusal to date to acknowledge the binding effect of the award. China’s withdrawal from Scarborough Shoal—hailed by the new Duterte government as a hallmark of its diplomatic efforts—is one instance of state practice that still remains equivocal on the opinio juris of China’s acceptance (or rejection) of the arbitration award.
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