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Chinese expert: If tensions escalate, US support for PHL, Japan will be 'limited'

The United States will only give "limited" support to Japan and the Philippines if ever the situation between the two countries and China worsens, a Chinese expert said Wednesday.
A report posted on Chinese website SINA quoted Ruan Zongze, vice president and senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), as saying that he expects that the US  won't "go too far" in supporting Japan and the Philippines.
He explained that although the US assures support for its allies, the assurance is "limited."
"This tension must be managed under certain circumstances, but at the same time, if the tension comes to a tipping point, the Americans will press the brake. They are not going too far. Even our bigger dispute with Japan, will Americans really fight for Japanese over the Diaoyu Islands? I don’t believe so," he said.
Ruan issued the statement after the US expressed support for the Philippines' call for international arbitration in settling its territorial row with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Philippines and China are involved in a territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands along with Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.
The Chinese expert, however, said the Chinese government will not "engage" in international arbitration, which he said was the right decision to make.
He likewise said he move of the Philippines to bring the issue to arbitration was "a unilateral action to escalate the tension."
"Nobody can really address the sovereignty issue, even the United Nations arbitration," he said.
Patience, he said, is needed in resolving the issue.
According to SINA, the CIIS is the think tank of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It reportedly "conducts research and analysis on a wide range of foreign policy issues."
In a text message to GMA News Online late Wednesday, US Embassy Press Attache Cynthia Cook said the Chinese expert's statement "concerns a hypothetical questions on which we would prefer not to comment."
US pledges support
US Secretary of State Kerry has conveyed Washington’s full support to the Philippine government’s decision to bring its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea before a U.N. arbitration tribunal, describing Manila’s move as “a step in the right direction.”
Kerry’s backing is the most important and so far the most high-profile support the Philippine government’s legal action against China has received, although US officials have repeatedly emphasized they would not take sides in the territorial row involving China, the Philippines and other claimants to the South China Sea territories.
Kerry expressed the U.S. government’s support twice during a meeting with Philippine counterpart Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in Washington on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) and in a press statement read to the media at the State Department.
“The Philippines is one of our five Asia-Pacific allies and a very, very important relationship at this point in time when there are tensions over the South China Sea, where we support a code of conduct,” Kerry told the press. “We are deeply concerned about some of these tensions and would like to see it worked out through a process of arbitration.”
Del Rosario and Kerry’s meeting was the first between the chief diplomats of the two allies since the former senator assumed his new position early this year.
The South China Sea, part of which is known in the Philippines as West Philippine Sea, is dotted with islands, shoals, cays, reefs and rock formations and is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.
Analysts feared the conflicts involving the China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, could be Asia's next flashpoint.  
Kerry, according to Del Rosario, emphasized the need to resolve the long-simmering conflicts peacefully on the basis of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  
UNCLOS is a 1982 accord by 163 countries that aims to govern the use of offshore areas and sets territorial limits of coastal states. The Philippines and China are both signatories to the treaty.
Del Rosario said Kerry assured him that Washington will continue to work with the Philippines and the Association of South East Asian Nations in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflicting claims in the resource-rich waters.
“We spoke at length about the situation in the West Philippine Sea.  Secretary Kerry assured me that the US is committed to supporting the efforts of the Philippines to settle the disputes peacefully and in accordance with the rule of law,” he said.
During the meeting, Del Rosario updated Kerry on Manila’s arbitration initiative, noting its importance to the future stability of the region and on its efficacy in international law in general.
“I stressed that we are committed to seeing this arbitration through.  There should be no confusion or any doubts about our resolve,” he said.
Del Rosario also thanked Secretary Kerry for focusing on the issue of the peaceful settlement of the West Philippine Sea when he was in the Senate.
“Secretary Kerry was a moving force behind a Senate resolution on the peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
- Kimberly Jane Tan and Michaela del Callar, VVP, GMA News