BEIJING, July 4 (Xinhua) — The United States has complicated the situation in the South China Sea instead of playing a constructive role, an Australian expert on maritime security has said.
Sam Bateman, a former commodore who is now a professorial research fellow at the University of Wollongong's Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Security, told Xinhua recently that the controversial arbitration process initiated by the Philippines in The Hague is highly likely to produce "a lose-lose outcome."
Bateman said that the South China Sea disputes will have to be resolved through negotiations among the countries directly involved.
"Agreements on sovereign issues are ultimately made on political grounds," he said.
Tensions in the South China Sea have been on the rise since the Philippines initiated an arbitration process in 2013, backed by the United States, who said it was not taking sides but has since sent warships near Chinese claimed islands to conduct its self-styled freedom of navigation patrols.
China has made it clear it rejects the arbitration process, which has been unilaterally initiated by the Philippines and runs counter to the spirit of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It also says the arbitration process is essentially related to sovereignty, which is not regulated by the UNCLOS.
Bateman wrote in a recent article that the brinkmanship in the South China Sea is dangerous, and that "the countries that are taking China to the brink are extra-regional players with often overstated interests in the South China Sea."
He questioned the U.S. move of sending warships to the South China Sea to conduct its self-styled freedom of navigation patrols.
"I believe the United States has complicated the situation in the South China Sea," he said.
The expert said eventually the only way out of the issue is joint management and joint development of the sea.
There is not the trust needed for the tribunal to play a constructive role. Actually, it is not only an obligation clearly set out in UNCLOS but also a necessity for countries to cooperate with each other in joint management of the sea, Bateman said.