>> A high stakes ruling on the South China Sea just hours away, an international court in the Hague, led by the UN, will deliver a decision later on Tuesday. The case which was brought by the Philippines is the first legal challenge to Beijing's claim to nearly all the islands and reefs in the area.
As Reuters Greg Torode explains, it goes beyond just ocean outposts.>> It plays into the broader strategic rivalry of China and the US. China, as an emerging superpower, is trying to project its naval reach. The US, on the other hand, is trying to improve its relations with countries surrounding China, so we can really see this legal case speaking to some of the broader tensions out there at the moment.
>> China refuses to have anything to do with the hearing, saying it will reject the ruling whatever the outcome. But that hasn't stopped the Philippines from pushing ahead.>> It's trying to clarify its own rights within its 200 mile exclusive economic zones. That's the rights to fishing and oil resources and as part of that, they're challenging China's activities in the South China Sea, dredging and reclaiming land off of reefs and also its law enforcement activities.
If it goes the Philippines' way, China is really potentially is gonna take a bit of a pounding from the judges.>> Beyond Beijing ignoring the ruling, there's a catch. No one actually enforces UN law. And there's every chance that the outcome will seriously increase tensions in a region where island disputes have simmered for decades.
If the court rules against China, which it probably will, Washington is likely to fly more surveillance planes over the South China Sea. Some say it if that happens, Beijing could use its military to form an air defense zone, preventing what it insists is Chinese turf.