An international tribunal will hand down a landmark ruling Tuesday in a case that will have major implications for one the world’s biggest geopolitical flashpoints — the South China Sea.

With the Philippines and China at loggerheads over Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea, Manila took its fight to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.

China has refused to participate in the case, which marks the first time an international court has ruled on the sea’s mess of overlapping claims, and analysts expect the ruling to largely go against Beijing.

The United States is a key player in the region and has navigated warships and military aircraft around the South China Sea, including near disputed reefs and shoals, citing international law and freedom of movement but triggering harsh warnings from China.

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