The United States on Wednesday held its most detailed case against Beijing’s “illegal” claims in the South China Sea, rejecting both the geographical and historical grounds for its vast, divisive map.
In a 47-page research paper, the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs said China has no basis under international law for claims that Beijing has accused Beijing of the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. countries on a collision course.
“The overall effect of these maritime claims is that the PRC illegally asserts sovereignty or any exclusive jurisdiction over much of the South China Sea,” the paper said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“These claims seriously undermine the rule of law in the oceans and many universally recognized provisions of international law reflected in the Convention,” referring to the 1982 United Nations Treaty on the Law of the Sea, ratified by China – but the United Nations No state.
Releasing the study, a State Department statement called on Beijing again to “stop its illegal and coercive activities in the South China Sea.”
The paper is an update of a 2014 study that similarly disputes the so-called “nine-dash line” that forms the basis for much of Beijing’s stance.
In 2016, an international court sided with the Philippines in its complaints over China’s claims. Beijing responded by offering new justification, saying China had “historic rights” over the region.
The State Department letter said such historically-based claims had “no legal basis” and that China had not made a specific offer.
It also took issue with the geographical justification for China’s claims, saying that more than 100 features of Beijing in the South China Sea are submerged in water during high tide and therefore “beyond the legitimate extent of any state’s territorial sea”. are beyond.”
Beijing cites such geographic features to claim the four “island groups” that the State Department study said do not meet baseline criteria under the UN convention.
The report was released as the United States increasingly challenges China on the global stage, recognizing the rising communist power as its major long-term threat.
In 2020, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explicitly supported the claims of Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, going beyond the previous US stance of challenging China, on the issue of which countries were right. .
The South China Sea is home to valuable oil and gas deposits and shipping lanes, and Beijing’s neighbors have often expressed concern that their vast neighbor may seek to expand its reach.
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