US: Wash­ing­ton re­mains com­mit­ted to SCS is­sue

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By PIA LEE-BRAGO – With Michael Punong­bayan

Fol­low­ing a warn­ing by the head of the US Pa­cific Com­mand that China had reached the tip­ping point in its con­trol over the West Philip­pine Sea, the United States on Wed­nes­day de­clared that it is com­mit­ted and re­mains in­ter­ested in the ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute.

Patrick Mur­phy of the US Depart­ment of State said Chinese con­struc­tion, recla­ma­tion and the grow­ing mil­i­ta­riza­tion in the West Philip­pine Sea is a great con­cern for the US.

The mil­i­ta­riza­tion on the part of any and all par­ties, Mur­phy said, would sug­gest that past com­mit­ments are be­ing vi­o­lated.

Ear­lier, Adm. Phil David­son, head of the US Pa­cific Com­mand, tes­ti­fied be­fore the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and warned that China had reached the tip­ping point in its con­trol over the South China Sea.

“China is now ca­pa­ble of con­trol­ling the South China Sea in all sce­nar­ios short of war with the United States,” David­son said.

Mur­phy, act­ing prin­ci­pal deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for East Asia and the Pa­cific, said the com­mit­ment not to mil­i­ta­rize the area had been made in pub­lic and pri­vate to the US as well as to other par­ties.

He pushed for a mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach in the res­o­lu­tion of the ter­ri­to­rial row.

“We’re very, very, very com­mit­ted. As I say in the South China Sea, we’re not a claimant but we’re a very in­ter­ested party and we very much hope that the process to re­solve dis­putes can be con­ducted trans­par­ently and in con­sul­ta­tion with many third par­ties that are in­ter­ested, in­clud­ing the US,” Mur­phy told jour­nal­ists at a press brief­ing.

“We don’t take sides in the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries but we’re an in­ter­ested party and we very much hope that these dis­putes can be re­solved peace­fully and in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional law which we subscribe to as well,” he added.

Mur­phy said there are many in­ter­ested par­ties, not only the US, be­cause over 40 per­cent of global com­merce goes through the West Philip­pine Sea.

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