More than a month after the international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea, the United States and India have called parties concerned to have the “utmost respect” for the international law.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, August 31, the two nations “stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.”
“They [India and the US] urged the utmost respect for international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the statement said.
“They reiterated that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means, and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability.”
The two nations released the statement during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to India as part of their annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.
Kerry also said that “there is no military solution” to the dispute, urging China and the Philippines to abide by the arbitration tribunal’s decision.
“The United States continues to call on China and the Philippines to abide by the tribunal’s recent decision which is final and legally binding on both parties,” Kerry told a gathering of students in New Delhi.
He added the United States supports diplomatic efforts to resolve these territorial disputes.
“We are also interested in not fanning the flames of conflict but rather trying to encourage the parties to resolve their disputes and claims through the legal process and through diplomacy,” Kerry said.
Last July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague sided in favor of the Philippines, ruling that China has no legal basis over its territorial claims in the disputed water.
China, however, refused to recognize the ruling, stating it would take measures needed to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea, with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam rivaling its claims.
Last August 23, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said bilateral talks with China may start within the year.
When asked by the date, he replied “Nearer than you think. Within the year, maybe,” as reported by Rappler.
Duterte previously said he won’t bring up the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute in the upcoming Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit unless another country would mention it.
Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will also attend the summit, which will be held next week in Laos.