US urges China anew to abide by 2016 Arbitral Award on South China Sea

Published September 10, 2021, 4:56 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The United States on Friday (Thursday in Washington, D.C.) reiterated its call for China to abide by the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that invalidated Beijing’s excessive nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

US State Secretary Antony Blinken made this statement during his meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who is currently in Washington, D.C. to attend to activities related to the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the 75thyear of the bilateral relations between the United States and the Philippines.

“Secretary Blinken also underscored the importance of freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the South China Sea, and reiterated calls on the People’s Republic of China to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement posted on the department’s official website.

To this date, however, China refuses to honor the international court’s decision or recognize the arbitral award on the South China Sea issue, even dismissing it as a mere piece of paper.

Aside from the South China Sea and freedom of navigation, Blinken and Locsin also discussed the COVID-19 cooperation and response, economic engagement, and the thorny issue of human rights.

In August this year, 11 US Democrat senators wrote Blinken a letter to clarify the Biden administration’s strategy for addressing the Duterte government’s pattern of human rights violations.

In that letter to Blinken, the 11 US legislators urged the Biden administration “to stand with the people of the Philippines as they continue to fight for their universal human rights.”

The US senators were specifically referring to rampant allegations of extrajudicial police misconduct — including collaboration with vigilantes, fabricated reports, and planted evidence.

They also cited the Duterte administration’s alleged targeting of opposition figures, journalists, and activists critical of the bloody war on drugs campaign.