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Politics

South China Sea arbitration ruling brings no closure to regional disputes

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Chinese navy personnel patrol in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, in February. The sign reads, "Nansha is our national land, sacred and inviolable."   © Reuters

JAKARTA The international tribunal decision against Beijing's claims to much of the South China Sea has provoked a mixed response in the region, with indications that it may tone down some rivalries while sharpening others.

Most revealingly, after years of acrimony with China over rival claims in the disputed waters, the Philippines initially took a conciliatory tone, inviting China to bilateral talks over the matter. Despite a jubilant reaction from his countrymen following the July 12 ruling, which was overwhelmingly in favor of Manila, the normally strident new President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not "flaunt" the decision. Instead, he reiterated his desire to improve relations with China, his country's biggest source of imports.

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