China cannot stand to gain from continuous exploitation of ASEAN’s apparent frailties.
In light of prevailing economic and political interests, ASEAN countries are most likely to follow the Philippines’ example. This could mean overlooking a ruling in their favour even if it is handed to them.
The apparent reversal comes at a time of improving relations between China and the Philippines, which until recently had bitterly contested their overlapping claims to the sea.
The United States Energy Information Agency (EIA) estimates there to be 11 billion barrels of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the disputed region.