Senator Joni Ernst led a group of six Republican Senators in introducing a resolution calling on all parties to respect The Hague-based tribunal's verdict that there was no evidence that China had historic rights to the waters or resources that fell within its 'nine-dash line'.

The resolution opposes any action in the South China Sea "to change the status quo through coercion or force," calls on China to cease all reclamation and militarisation activities in the South China Sea and reaffirms the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and the Philippines.

It calls on Secretary of State John Kerry to use 'all diplomatic channels' to communicate support for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

It urges Secretary of Defence Ash Carter to 'routinely enforce' freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

"It is abundantly clear that China's land reclamation and militarisation in the region must continue to be opposed, and that they must not continue down the path of destabilisation in such a critical region. The US will continue to stand with the Philippines against China's actions," Senator Ernst said.

Other senators who introduced the resolution were Marco Rubio, Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, John McCain and Dan Sullivan.

Rubio said that if China chooses to ignore the tribunal's ruling, the US must not allow it to dictate the circumstances of transit via the South China Sea, through which USD 3 trillion of trade passes annually.

"I call on the Obama administration to reinforce our treaty alliances in the region, continue and expand freedom of navigation operations and overflights, reconsider our traditional policy of not taking a position on individual claims, and respond to Chinese provocations with commensurate actions that impose costs on any attempts to undermine security in the region," he said.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) yesterday issued a ruling in the case brought by the Philippines regarding a dispute over maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea. It ruled that there was no evidence that China had historic rights to the waters or resources that fell within its 'nine-dash line'. The tribunal said China was violating the Philippine's sovereign rights with its operations there.

The ruling is binding but the arbitral court, working under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has no powers of enforcement.

China, which refused to participate in the proceedings, has rejected the tribunal order, with President Xi Jinping saying that China's territorial sovereignty and marine rights would not be affected by the ruling 'in any way'.

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