THE Philippines’ claim on the South China Sea would continue to have the backing of the United States regardless of whoever wins the 2020 U.S. presidential race, according to an analyst.
“It certainly comes down to the Philippines and how hard is the Philippines going to seek to protect its claim, how is it gonna hedge between the U.S. and China,” Drew Thompson, visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said Tuesday, October 27.
“The U.S. will continue to adapt to that,” he added.
Thompson noted that the main interest of the U.S. in the South China Sea having the freedom to traverse and cross through the contested waters.
“[The] freedom of navigation issue is really the critical interest. It’s not about the claims of the territory,” he said.
In July, the U.S. announced that it was rejecting most of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.
“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” he added.
Pompeo also stressed that the U.S. stands with its Southeast Asian allies.
“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. We stand with the international community in defence of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose ‘might makes right’ in the South China Sea or the wider region,” he said.
According to Pompeo, the unanimous decision “rejected the (People’s Republic of China’s) maritime claims as having no basis in international law.”
“As the United States has previously stated, and as specifically provided in the Convention, the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both parties,” he added.