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China raises voice after US rejects its “mostly” unlawful claims in South China  Sea

July 14, 2020 | 10:29

Chinese Embassy in the US has raised its voice to respond to the US’ rejection of Beijing’s mostly unlawful sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. However, it can not cite the claims are in accordance with international law in the latest statement. 

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Right after the US’ Department of State’s statement rejecting "most" of China's maritime claims in the South China Sea, marking the turning point as Washington officially directs to Beijing’s ambitionto assert control in the strategic waters, CHina Embassy in the US has raised its voice, calling the former’s statement “distorts the facts” and “exaggerates the situation”.

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A statement on the website of Embassy of China in the US.

Accordingly, the Chinese Embassy in the US affirmed “China has been committed to resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation with countries directly involved, managing differences through rules and mechanisms, and achieving win-win results through mutually beneficial cooperation.”

China accused the US of interfering with the disputes that it is not directly involved in. “Under the pretext of preserving stability, it is flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region. Under the pretext of endorsing rules, it is using UNCLOS to attack China while refusing to ratify the Convention itself. Under the pretext of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight, it is recklessly infringing on other countries’ territorial sea and airspace and throwing its weight around in every sea of the world.”

However, Beijing in its latest statement still fails to lawfully assert the so-called “nine-dash-line”, which was unilaterally delineated by China on the South China Sea, is consistent with the UNCLOS. The tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 ruled that China couldn’t claim historic rights in all the waters within a “nine-dash” line.

Pompeo: China's "predatory world view has no place in the 21st century"

The US on July 13 asserted that "Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them."

"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," Mike Pompeo said in a lengthy statement.

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US' air carriers in the South China Sea.

CNN reported that the move is "pretty significant," cited Gregory Poling, a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies as saying.

"What the US basically said is that we are going to remain neutral on questions of who owns what island or rock in the South China Sea, but we're no longer going to keep quiet on China's illegal claims to the waters," Poling explained, adding that in the past, the US had been "cagey" on the matter.

Poling told CNN that "a lot depends on how" the US follows through on Monday's announcement, but called it "a big blow diplomatically."

"It lets the US very clearly call out China's activities as illegal, not just destabilizing or unhelpful, but to say this is illegal," he said. "That helps partners like Vietnam and the Philippines, and it's going to put pressure on other countries -- the Europeans, for instance -- to get off the fence and say something themselves."

In the statement, Pompeo also took aim at China's attempts to establish maritime claims inside other countries' Exclusive Economic Zones, areas extending 200 miles into the sea from the shore. The top US diplomat specifically said China "cannot lawfully assert a maritime claim -- including any Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims derived from Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands -- vis-a-vis the Philippines in areas that the Tribunal found to be in the Philippines' EEZ or on its continental shelf."

"Any PRC action to harass other states' fishing or hydrocarbon development in these waters -- or to carry out such activities unilaterally -- is unlawful," Pompeo said.

Zack Cooper, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told CNN "that is really the core of this."

"The US is professing support for these countries' rights in those areas. Now, if the US wants to come to support an ally or partner in the South China Sea which is getting pushed around by China, now it has the legal justification to say China's actions are illegal in our view... even though Pompeo has previously indicated these are coercive actions by the Chinese, he probably would not have said they are illegal, now he can," he explained.

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