US exec cites Philippine-Indonesia pact as guide for China
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2014 - 9:27am

MANILA, Philippines — The recently forged pact between the Philippines and Indonesia to settle their maritime row and the arbitration case are examples Washington cited for Beijing to peacefully end South China Sea rivalries.

Daniel Russel, top US diplomat for East Asia, said the Obama administration is pushing for China to curb its intimidating behavior in the South China and East China seas and look for ways to manage its differences with neighboring states.

"We want countries, including China, to manage or settle claims through peaceful, diplomatic means," Russel said in a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee in Washington on Wednesday.

"For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have just done so in connection with their EEZ boundary," he added.

Russel attested to the relations between the US and China, two powers seen to be counterbalancing in the East Asian region.

However, Russel said that the ties are not marked by strategic rivalry but by "fair and healthy competition."

Washington's exchanges with Beijing also involves advising it on managing disputes as a regional leader as its neighbors are "understandably alarmed" by its "coercive efforts" in asserting its sea claims, Russel said.

The state department official also cited third-party dispute resolution processes, one of which the Philippines took.

"Where parties’ rights under treaties may be affected, some treaties provide for third-party dispute settlement, as is the case of the Law of the Sea Convention, an avenue pursued by the Philippines in an arbitration with China currently being considered by an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under that treaty," he said.

Russel also argued that China must allow the merits of its overlapping claims with the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia to be decided on according to internationally recognized principles.

"These issues should be decided on the basis of the merits of China’s and other claimants’ legal claims and adherence to international law and norms, not the strength of their militaries and law enforcement ships or the size of their economies," he explained.

He also reiterated the US' neutral stance in the claims while opposing threat of force in advancing such claims.

Such actions, Russel said, have "no effect in strengthening the legitimacy of China's claims."

Aggressiveness that threatens neighbors also damages the emerging global power's international standing, he said.

ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL BEIJING CHINA CLAIMS DANIEL RUSSEL EAST ASIA EAST ASIAN LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION PHILIPPINES AND INDONESIA RUSSEL
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