• A think-tank tracker revealed that only eight countries, and not 60, have confirmed support for China in its maritime dispute against the Philippines
  • Also, at least four countries have publicly denied China’s claim of support
  • On the other hand, 40 countries are backing the outcome of the arbitral proceeding as legally binding

An arbitration support tracker by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), an updated and interactive source of information designed by the think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), revealed that only 8 countries, and not 60 as claimed by China, are supporting the latter’s position in its bitter territorial dispute against the Philippines.

Rather, AMTI said, there are 40 countries who have expressed support for the outcome of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) proceeding which is due on July 12 and is widely expected to favor the Philippines.

“In an effort to deflect that pressure, Chinese officials and state media have been trumpeting the number of countries that have voiced support for Beijing’s position that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction in the case and the ruling is therefore invalid,” said a recent AMTI article.

“China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that the number has climbed to 60, but has not provided a list of the countries or, in most cases, evidence for their support,” it added.

According to AMTI, citing “publicly available, official statements” from 60 countries that China claims to be backing their position in the arbitration, only Afghanistan, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Niger, Sudan, Togo and Vanuatu have confirmed their support.

Four countries – Cambodia, Fiji, Poland and Slovenia – have publicly denied China’s claim of support while 48 “have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China.”

On the other hand, 40 countries are publicly supporting the outcome of the arbitral proceeding as binding. These includes Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany, among others.

On June 29, the PCA issued a press release saying it has informed the parties that the tribunal will issue its award in the territorial dispute initiated by the Philippines against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at approximately 11 am (local time.)

Reacting to the imminent PCA ruling, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei maintained that the Philippines’ unilateral lodging of the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea is against international laws.

The United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, meanwhile, said it will respect the PCA ruling regardless of which country it favors.