Mixed Reactions to South China Sea Ruling

A White House official said the international tribunal’s sweeping July 12 ruling against China’s claims to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea would reinforce the historic US policy of promoting the international rule of law and peaceful resolution of disputes. But Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan and retired Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt said it should result in more aggressive US actions to enforce the right of freedom of navigation in the hotly contested sea. Daniel Kritenbrink, Asian expert on the National Security Council, urged all the nations with conflicting claims to part of the potentially resource-rich sea to use the ruling to open peaceful negotiations on their disputes. But Kritenbrink restated America’s intention to “sail, fly, and operate” wherever international law allows. Sullivan, however, said “I believe the best way to maintain peace is to be strong” and he urged the Navy to send a warship to conduct another freedom of navigation mission within China’s now rejected territorial waters in the sea. McDevitt, a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analysis, said the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague should move the administration to more aggressively “call out China” on its territorial claims.