A ruling expected in the next few months in an international arbitration case the Philippines has brought against Beijing’s South China Sea claims must be binding, Britain said on Monday.
British Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire also said that he sees the ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague as an opportunity for China and the Philippines to renew dialogue over their territorial disputes, Reuters reported.
Swire said that although Britain is keen to attract Chinese investment, this did not mean “we suspend our critical faculties” over Beijing’s assertive pursuit of territory in the South China Sea.
“We make it clear to the Chinese that we can only do these kinds of deals in an open and transparent way under an international rules-based system,” the minister was quoted as saying in a speech at a Washington think-tank.
“Under the international rules-based system on which the world depends, we would expect the ruling from The Hague to be adhered to by all parties concerned, whichever way it goes,” Swire said.
China claims virtually all of the South China Sea and rejects the court’s authority in the case, which is widely expected to go in favor of the Philippines.
The court is expected to rule in late May or early June.
Britain considers freedom of navigation and overflight “absolutely non-negotiable”, Swire said.
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