Explained: Why China After 8 years Reveals 2016 Philippines South China Sea Agreement?

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In summary, China's decision to disclose the 2016 agreement serves various strategic objectives, including reaffirming sovereignty claims, countering negative narratives, influencing audiences both domestically and internationally, and preparing for potential legal challenges.

New Delhi (ABC Live): The recent revelation by China of an undisclosed 2016 agreement with the Philippines concerning access to South China Sea islands has stirred concerns over escalating tensions in the vital waterway, largely claimed by China. According to a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Manila, the agreement labelled a "temporary special arrangement," permitted limited fishing around the islands while restricting military, coast guard, and official vessels' access to territorial waters within a 12 nautical mile limit.

The Philippines purportedly adhered to the agreement for seven years before allegedly reneging on it, prompting China's response. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and former President Rodrigo Duterte have both denied any agreements compromising Philippine sovereignty, though Duterte hinted at such an agreement during his tenure without providing specifics.

An ABC research team has analyzed the motives behind China's decision to make public the South China Sea islands agreement with the Philippines. The findings are as follows:

Assertion of Claims: By disclosing the agreement, China aims to reassert its sovereignty over the disputed islands, reinforcing its stance and highlighting a mutual understanding with the Philippines.

Countering Narratives: Amid escalating tensions in the region, China may seek to counter portrayals of aggression by presenting an alternative narrative emphasizing cooperation rather than confrontation.

Messaging to the Philippines: The revelation could be interpreted as a message to the current Philippine government, potentially influencing public opinion and urging adherence to past agreements.

Shaping International Perception: China aims to shape global perception by demonstrating its diplomatic engagement and agreements with neighbouring countries, contributing to a narrative justifying its actions in the region.

Legal Considerations: Publicizing the agreement may position China strategically for potential legal disputes, impacting sovereignty claims and maritime rights.

In summary, China's decision to disclose the 2016 agreement serves various strategic objectives, including reaffirming sovereignty claims, countering negative narratives, influencing audiences both domestically and internationally, and preparing for potential legal challenges.

For further details on the ABC Report regarding the South China Sea islands agreement with the Philippines, please contact abcliveindia@gmail.com.

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