The United Kingdom has requested “neutral observer” status at the hearing of a case brought by the Philippines before the United Nations’ Permanent Court of Arbitration against China for the latter’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, The Guardian reported. The UK’s foreign office described the move as a routine intervention in international maritime affairs, but it had been understood that the United States had been denied this status because it likewise had no territorial involvement. The move also follows strenuous efforts by London to strengthen economic and political ties with China during a visit from President Xi Jinping last month.
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