In a press release on Monday, the United States (US) State Department warned China against its ‘campaign of bullying’ and unlawful offshore activities in the South China Sea. The press release accused the Communist-run-country of undermining international laws, asserting dominion, and infringing upon the sovereignty of coastal areas of other Southeast Asian countries.
The US State Department noted that the expansionist policies of China became clear when the foreign minister of the country Yang Jiechi in 2010 said to other members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), “China is a big country and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact.” The press release noted that the ‘predatory mindset’ possessed by the Chinese government is unsustainable in the 21st century.
The United States pointed out that China has no legal backing to most of its claims, including the ‘Nine-Dash Line’ claim in the South China Sea, which the Communist-run-country made in 2009. Recounting the decision made by the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016, the State Department noted that the Tribunal rejected China’s maritime claims and sided with the Philippines instead. The press release emphasised that the decision of the arbitral Tribunal was final and binding on all litigants. As such, the State Department reiterated that it will be aligning itself with the same position as that of the Tribunal.
US condemns harassment by China
The press release also lighted that China cannot assert its claims on the Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands which belongs exclusively to the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The State Department stated that the ‘harassment’ of the Philippines by China over fisheries and offshore economic development is unlawful. The press release made it clear that China has no maritime rights over Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal, as they fall under the territory and jurisdiction of Philipines.
The United States also rejected China’s claims over Luconia Shoals (jurisdiction of Malaysia), Vanguard Bank (jurisdiction of Vietnam), and Natuna Besar (jurisdiction of Indonesia). Highlighting the example of James Shoal, a submerged territory about 50 nautical miles from Malaysia, the press release emphasised that such an ‘underwater feature’ cannot be claimed by any State, let alone China. The State Department reiterated that carrying out unilateral activities in the territory of sovereign countries along the South China Sea for fishing or hydrocarbon development is ‘unlawful harassment’
US vows to stand with Southeast Asian allies
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. We stand with the international community in defense of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose “might makes right” in the South China Sea or the wider region,” the press release concluded.
Expansionism of China
Reportedly, China has been relentless in illegally occupying land in at least 21 countries. Even though the International Court of Justice has rejected its dubious claims, China continues to assert ownership of islands in the Philippines. The same is the case with Vietnam. Communist-run country has claimed fishing rights in the water near islands in Indonesian territory. Besides, China has disputes with Laos, Cambodia on ‘historical precedents and with Thailand over the Mekong river since 2001. China has disputes with Japan over Senkaku and Ryu Kya islands. Moreover, the expansionist country has staked claim to the whole of South Korea on some occasions. Besides, the Communist-controlled country also has disputes with North Korea over Mount Pek-tu and the Tuman river. Earlier, it was reported that China had occupied the Rui village in Gorkha district of Nepal.