MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A senior US congressman said China should agree to face the Philippines before a UN arbitration tribunal to resolve the two Asian countries’ territorial rifts peacefully and avoid a crisis in the region.
The Philippines announced last week that it was bringing a case before a UN arbitration tribunal to challenge China’s claims over the entire South China Sea, including potentially oil-rich areas.
China has not responded clearly, but one of its diplomats has pressed Beijing’s demand that rival claimants resolve the disputes through one-on-one negotiations.
Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it’s best for China to agree to the international arbitration to avoid a possible “crisis which roils the markets or creates uncertainty” in the region.
The Philippines had formally notified Beijing it was seeking arbitration before a tribunal operating under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It wants China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea declared unlawful.
John Negroponte, a former United States national intelligence director and deputy secretary of state, welcomed the Philippines’ action.
“The main message I take from the Philippine government action is that it seeks to resolve this issue by peaceful means and that is very consistent with the line that the United States government has been advocating all these years,” Negroponte said.