“We have been working very closely with all of the claimants to secure from them an understanding that … arbitration is an appropriate mechanism to resolve these disputes and that it will binding on the parties once it is issued,” Blinken said in testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, rejecting competing claims over parts of the international waterway by six other nations in the region.
Later this month, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands is expected to rule on a case the Philippines brought against China over claims to the Spratly Islands.
“The arbitration decision is an important moment, and it is our hope that whatever the decision, China and the Philippines will respect the decision and adhere to it,” Blinken stated.
China rejects the arbitration court’s authority, and has continued building airstrips and other military defenses throughout the region.