Australia will continue to advocate "very strongly" for the freedom of navigation through the South China sea, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
"Australia will continue to adopt a very consistent position," Morrison told a media briefing in Canberra when asked if the country backed the position of the United States on the South China Sea.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States would support countries that believed China has violated their maritime claims in the South China Sea, but stressed doing so in multilateral and legal forums.
The US waded back into the heated South China Sea debate after almost a year of disengagement from Southeast Asia, punctuated by a snub of the ASEAN summit in November last year that saw a low-level US delegation attend – a diplomatic faux-pas that has inspired similar moves among ASEAN member states.
Administered under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which China is a signatory, the international tribunal made the unprecedented ruling in favor of the Philippines, a claimant in the South China Sea dispute.