The specifics of whether China can lay claim to the heavily-contested waters of the South China Sea may have been resolved by The Hague's ruling in favor of the Philippines, but business and trade relations between the two countries could still cloud the issue.
In a bid to distance himself from the Philippines' previous administration, and avoid retaliation from Beijing for the ruling, the country's new president, Rodrigo Duterte, has indicated that he might be willing to make concessions on the South China Sea issue, explained Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, China was the Philippines' second largest trading partner and third largest export market in 2015.
Ian Chong Ja, a professor specializing in Chinese foreign policy at the National University of Singapore, said hostile behavior was to be expected of Beijing in the medium term, as it went through a period of adjustment and reform at home.
"Domestic leeway for Beijing to look soft on the world stage will be diminished…[and we can expect] similar reactions from China across the Pacific, whether it's the Diaoyu Islands, the management of Hong Kong and Taiwan [relations]," he said.
Chong said that in the long term, however, China still wanted to work with its neighbors.
This was reflected in a Chinese white paper published immediately after the ruling on July 13 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal, which Chong said which made "some room for negotiation" on issues relating to territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea.