China has been warned by the United States on Wednesday against taking “drastic and provocative moves or face the consequence of its actions”, following an impending international court ruling that is expected to largely reject Beijing’s nine-dash line overlapping territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

South_China_Sea_claims_map
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A senior State Department official voiced doubt at China’s claim that almost forty-five (45) nations supported its position in a case the Philippines has brought against Beijing and vowed that Washington would uphold US defense commitments to its allies.

A US defense analyst said that Washington response to such moves could include accelerated “freedom-of-navigation” patrols by US warships and overflights by US aircraft as well as an increased defense aid to Southeast Asian countries, but if things come to worse, it may be a hell of a one on one military confrontation.

Combined U.S. and allied fleet

According to the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia Colin Willett,  Washington had “a lot of options” to react to any such Chinese moves in an area she said was key to US interests. She likewise clarified that with a decision expected possibly within weeks, the United States was working to rally sometimes wavering allies and partners in the region to ensure a unified front.

Colin Willett, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Multilateral Affairs on East Asia

Willett said that while it was still unclear how the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague would rule, “it isn’t in (China’s) interest to take additional provocative actions” after it does. Willett reiterated the US view that the ruling must be binding. She declined to detail how the United States might respond should Beijing stick to its vow to ignore the ruling, but said: “I do think it’s an important inflection point, not just for the United States, but for the whole region.”

Willett said Washington hoped China would see the decision as “a chance to restart genuine and a serious discussion with their Southeast Asian neighbors.”– J.C.Est.

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