The United States has renewed its support to the Philippines’ move to bring its territorial disputes with China before an international tribunal, calling it a “peaceful means” to resolving maritime row.
Washington’s statement of support issued by the U.S. State Department came after the Philippines submitted on March 30 a 4,000-page document or memorial containing an array of legal evidence and maps that will bolster its case against China.
“The United States reaffirms its support for the exercise of peaceful means to resolve maritime disputes without fear of any form of retaliation, including intimidation or coercion,” the State Department statement said.
All countries, it added, “should respect the right of any States Party, including the Republic of the Philippines, to avail themselves of the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for under the Law of the Sea Convention.”
“We hope that this case serves to provide greater legal certainty and compliance with the international law of the sea,” it said.
China claims the South China Sea nearly in its entirety, including areas that are within Manila’s territorial waters that have been renamed West Philippine Sea.
Manila took a bold step on January 2013 when it filed a case against China before a United Nations-linked international tribunal in a bid to declare Beijing’s sea claims excessive. A five-man court that was assembled to hear the case ordered the Philippines to submit a memorial on or before March 30 to substantiate its complaint.
The U.S., a Philippine defense ally, maintains it does not take sides in the disputes but has declared that it is in its national interest to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and that the disputes are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law, particularly the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are also claimants to the resource-rich waters, a major trade route where oil and gas deposits have recently been discovered.
It is expected of China to submit a counter memorial under international arbitration procedures. However, Beijing stated that it will not participate in the legal process. (PNA)