MANILA – The United States, under newly sworn-in President Joe Biden, is likely to maintain its position in the South China Sea by continuing to uphold the 2016 arbitral award, Philippine Ambassador to Washington D.C. Jose Manuel Romualdez said Thursday.
Under the previous administration of former US President Donald Trump, Washington endorsed the landmark decision that ruled against Beijing’s vast nine-dash line claim in the disputed region.
Romualdez said State Secretary-designate Antony Blinken himself affirmed that China will remain a priority in the US foreign policy.
“Sinabi niya na ‘yong kanilang policy sa China will be more or less the same as what the Trump administration had kaya lang iba ‘yong kanilang approach (He said that their policy on China will be more or less the same as what the Trump administration had but the approach will be different), there would be cooperation in many other areas but in terms of, for instance, South China Sea they recognize… The US recognizes the arbitral award so they will continue with that policy,” he said in an interview over GMA. “Lahat yan is the overall picture of what the Biden administration will be doing in our part of the world (That would be the overall picture of what the Biden administration will be doing in this part of the world),” he added.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, meanwhile, hoped to see Washington continue its freedom of navigation and overflight operations in the South China Sea, saying this serves as the “most robust enforcement of the arbitral award.”
“Whenever the US Navy sails in the West Philippine Sea and conduct naval drills, they’re saying that we can do this because this is an EEZ of a coastal state, and there’s only one coastal state in the West Philippine Sea and that’s the Philippines,” he said during a Foreign Service Institute-organized Mangrove Forum on Thursday. “I hope that continues and I hope that the US will not disengage because that will leave the South China Sea for the taking by China,” he added.
Biden was officially sworn in as the 46th president of the US in a heavily-guarded ceremony at the US Capitol on Wednesday. (PNA)