The Arbitration Court at the Hague ruling in favor of the Philippines has not changed China’s stance on the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the U.S. is that it is not taking sides, but claims it supports the rule of law.
On July 12, the Arbitration Court has handed down its ruling in the matter of the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, The Philippines alleged that China violated the United Nationals Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) due to aggressive actions over the disputed area in recent years.
With regards to this, the Tribunal ruled that China does not hold the historic rights over a number of islands it is claiming. At the same time, the Tribunal found that Chinese law enforcement vessels had acted unlawfully when it physically obstructed Philippine vessels in Scarborough Shoal at the risk of collision.
Following the Tribunal’s ruling, the U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary and spokesman John Kirby issued a statement saying, “The United States strongly supports the rule of law. We support efforts to resolve territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea peacefully, including through arbitration.”
Moreover, Kirby remarked that the Tribunal’s decision is “final and legally binding” for both the Philippines and China. Although the U.S. is choosing not to take sides in the ruling, it has said it hopes “both parties will comply with their obligations.”
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that China is “strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed” to the statement issued by the U.S.
“The US statement turned a blind eye to the facts and endorsed a ruling that is illegal and invalid,” Kang said, accusing the U.S. of being “selective when it comes to the application of the law.”
China is further urging the U.S. to “stop illegal arbitration and meddling with the South China Sea issue.”