There is little benefit to America of backing up the claims of allies over disputed territories in the South China Sea. Benjamin Herscovitch explains an appropriate course of action for the U.S. in the region at Cato.org.
To avoid needlessly entangling itself in the South China Sea dispute, the United States should not support the territorial claims of any state and should make clear that the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty does not apply to disputed territory and waters claimed by the Philippines. In addition, the United States should encourage claimant states to agree on de facto jurisdiction over disputed areas and to jointly exploit resources while more permanent resolutions are negotiated. Finally, Washington should understand that ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea will have little, if any, effect on the South China Sea dispute.
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