China claims it has a historic right of ownership to almost the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 international arbitration ruling saying Beijing’s claim had no legal basis under international law.
But the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it. DWF’s Head of Transport, Jonathan Moss, has explained China should be fearful of the US getting involved.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Moss said: “I think it would be US influence so if the US decides to debate, negotiate and adopt the mantel for the countries.
“If they become the parole for those particular countries I think that will be more of an issue for China because at the moment we have got this discussion and debate between the two leaders about trade deals.
“If the Americans become far more engaged I think that will probably make China listen.”
Mr Moss also noted there is a real risk of further conflict in the waters.
He said: “I think there’s definitely a risk of all-out conflict.
“There have been pockets of conflict before; going back about 20 years there was a naval battle where three Chinese vessels were engaged with the Philippines Navy gunboats.
“That was in the Spratly Islands.
“There’s definitely the risk of isolated incidents and as we know, a string of isolated incidents can lead to major conflict.
“It should be on the radar as a danger.”
It comes as two US Air Force B-1B bombers took off from Guam and headed west over the Pacific Ocean to the hotly contested South China Sea.
The sleek jets made a low-level pass over the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its escorting fleet, which was exercising nearby in the Philippines Sea, according to images released by the US military.
The operation was part of the Trump administration’s intensifying challenge to China’s ruling Communist Party and its sweeping territorial claims over one of the world’s most important strategic waterways. Express UK