US Senators support PHL case against China’s ‘questionable claim’: Urge US government help allies bolster capabilities

United States Senators John McCain (Republican) and Jack Reed (Democrat), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively; and Senators Bob Corker (Republican) and Ben Cardin (Democrat), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a joint statement July 16 supporting efforts made by Philippines to peacefully resolve territorial disputes. They also expressed that the US government should help allies, like the Philippines, strengthen maritime capabilities.

The four senators noted that the Philippine legal team presented oral arguments on issue of jurisdiction before the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. “If the court chooses to consider the Philippines’ case, it will then make a ruling on the legality of China’s vast and, in our view, questionable claim sometime next year,” the American lawmakers said.

“Although the United States does not take a position on the competing claims, we applaud Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and his government for his commitment to pursuing this legal course of action,” they added.

While China continues to build fake islands in West Philippine Sea, “we are encouraged to see that Manila continues to make every effort to resolve these claims peacefully, consistent with international law, and through international arbitration mechanisms,” Senators McCain, Reed, Corker and Cardin said.

They added that “the United States must continue to support our partners and allies, including the Philippines, as they contend with China’s assertiveness. This requires not only routinely exercising freedom of navigation and overflight activities in the East and South China Seas, but also bolstering the maritime capabilities of South East Asian nations and conducting joint exercises and patrols.”