The United States and the European Union warned Beijing that it should respect the international court ruling that expected to occur this coming May.
The Philippines filed a case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague over the disputed territory in the West Philippine Sea — but China is rejecting its authority even it has ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, Amy Searight, said that the US, the EU, and allies like Japan, South Korea, and Australia must be ready to make clear that the court’s ruling must be binding and that there would be costs to China for not respecting it if it lost the case.
Searight’s statements came after China’s deployment of an advanced surface-to-air missile system in Woody Island one of the contested islands in the South China Sea which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
“We need to be ready to be very loud and vocal, in harmony together, standing behind the Philippines and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) claimants to say that this is international law, this is incredibly important, it is binding on all parties,” she said.
“Certainly, reputational cost is at stake, but we can think of other creative ways to perhaps impose costs as well,” Searight added.
In a message to China, Searight said that if China did not respect a negative ruling, should be, “we will hold you accountable.”
Meanwhile the head of the political section of the EU Delegation in Washington, Klaus Botzet, said that opposing world opinion is difficult, “a joint Western, a joint world opinion, matters also for Beijing,” he said.
“If we unanimously support that international law as formulated by the international tribunal in the Hague… needs to be upheld, that’s a very strong message and will be very difficult to ignore,” he added.
Botzet also said that the EU “strongly supports the American guarantee of international law in Asia.”