US urges all parties to avoid provocation after South China Sea ruling

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) -  The United States urged all parties to avoid provocative statements or actions after an arbitration court ruled on Tuesday (July 12) that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea.

“The decision today by the Tribunal in the Philippines-China arbitration is an important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The United States is still studying the decision and has no comment on the merits of the case but supports efforts to resolve South China territorial and maritime disputes peacefully, he said.


A five-member arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within much of the South China Sea.

China, which boycotted the hearings at the court, vowed again to ignore the ruling and said its armed forces would defend its sovereignty and maritime interests.

Countries that join the Law of the Sea Convention agree to its compulsory dispute settlement process and the tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines, Mr Kirby said.

“The United States expresses its hope and expectation that both parties will comply with their obligations,” he said. “In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions.”

China claims most of the energy-rich waters through which about US$5 trillion (S$6.7 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year.  Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.