China will be setting up itself for further confrontation with neighboring countries if it will disregard and ignore the ruling of the international tribunal on case filed by Philippines against China’s sovereignty claim over virtually the entire South China Sea, United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Colin Willett said today in a teleconference with Southeast Asian journalists.
The decision of the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected in coming weeks until May this year. China’s claim includes territory within Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the West Philippine Sea.
“All eyes will be on China to see how it responds to the ruling and in our view that ruling should not be seen as a threat but can be seen as an opportunity for a real diplomatic solution,” the American official said.
Willet is responsible for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs in the East Asia and Pacific Bureau.
China has repeatedly said that it will not participate nor accept a third-party dispute settlement.
Former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, before leaving his post, said “as we presume to be responsible states, the Philippines, as well as the international community, are asking China to respect the forthcoming ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal and together advance an international rules-based regime. If China does not heed our collective call, does it mean that China considers itself above the law?”
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