MANILA, Philippines — The move of the US Navy to sail near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands shows Washington’s support for the Philippines’ claims over the South China Sea.
US officials earlier confirmed that guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of China’s artificial islands in the disputed waters.
Beijing has protested US Navy’s freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the region and had sought an explanation with US officials over the incident.
Jeffrey Kline, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, said that the areas that China are excessively claiming are rightfully part of the Philippines according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The selection of Mischief Reef itself is clear in the sense that, in my view, we’re supporting the Philippines claim here and we’re also selecting what is clearly not a legal claim or a type of supportive claim by China,” Kline said in an interview with ANC on Friday.
On July 2016, the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands issued a ruling invalidating China’s excessive claims over the disputed South China Sea.
The Duterte administration set aside the ruling and opted to hold bilateral consultations with China to settle the maritime dispute.