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UN tribunal ruling binding on PH and China – US    
A decision by a United Nations (UN) tribunal hearing a case filed by the Philippines against China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea would be legally binding on both countries, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said. “The international community expects both the Philippines and China to respect the ruling, regardless of outcome,” Assistant Sec. Russel told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. The Philippines brought the case for arbitration before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in 2013 but China has refused to participate. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea makes clear that “the absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings,” Assistant Sec. Russel said. He said it was important for all countries with overlapping claims to disputed territories to clarify their maritime claims on the basis of international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).