Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Pic: AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Singapore’s prime minister says international law should determine how territorial disputes in the South China Sea are resolved, rather than the notion that “might is right.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was responding Tuesday to a question about China’s expansive territorial claims in resource-rich oceans that have spooked some of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

Lee noted that China says its claims have a historical basis that predates international law.

While Singapore is not a claimant, Lee said his city state “must survive in the international system where there are big countries and small, and outcomes cannot be determined just by might is right.”

He said international law “must have a big weight in how disputes are resolved.”

Lee was speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations during a Washington visit.