Recent Sino–Russian naval drills in the South China Sea were touted by both states as an example of an alignment in each side’s interests. But the reality is more modest, as the two powers carefully balance the strategic advantages and liabilities of their relationship.
China’s determination to gain control or assert its possession over various remote islands in its adjacent seas may seem inexplicable. But there is a perfect logic to what China is doing – much of this relates to the way the country’s communists seek to bolster their domestic legitimacy
China has advanced a number of arguments to justify its decision to ignore the arbitral tribunal’s recent ruling on the South China Sea dispute. None of them make much legal sense, but all raise questions about China’s views of the international order.
Following the technical ruling in favour of the Philippines by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and with China increasingly flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, the EU is trying to balance supporting the rule of law with a pragmatic desire to maintain good relations with Beijing.