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This paper discusses Australia’s position on the 2016 arbitral ruling in the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v The People’s Republic of China). Australia’s Foreign Minister has stated that this was an important test-case for how the East Asian region can manage disputes peacefully.
The paper will explain Australia’s interests in the South China Sea, followed by an examination of the legal ruling alongside Australia’s, China’s and the Philippines’ responses. It will make reference to the issue of emerging global powers in the East Asian region and argue that the arbitration should become a precedent for regional dispute resolution based on nation-state participation in a rules-based global order.