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China's unlawful claims on Bien Dong Sea faces strong international opposition

21:52 | 05/09/2020

China’s South China Sea sovereignty claims have endured strong criticism from various countries globally, including the United States and Australia, which state that these claims are both groundless and unlawful.

forces of ferocity in the bien dong sea south china sea Forces of "ferocity" in the Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea)
south china sea bien dong sea and tensions between powers South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea) and tensions between powers
vietnam opposes chinas military drills missile firing in bien dong sea south china sea Vietnam opposes China’s military drills, missile firing in Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea)
chinas unlawful claims on bien dong sea faces strong international opposition
US MIke Pompeo says China’s ‘predatory world view’ has no place in the 21st century (Photo: VOV)

According to VOV, during the course of June and July, plenty of countries released statements or sent notes to the United Nations, announcing rejection of China’s unjustifiable sovereignty claims over the South China Sea, known as the Bien Dong Sea in Vietnam, in the strongest manner possible.

The US changes its stance in Bien Dong disputes

US Department of State published a press statement on July 13, which points out: "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".

The statement adds that: "The PRC has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region. Beijing has offered no coherent legal basis for its “Nine-Dashed Line” claim in the South China Sea since formally announcing it in 2009."

US Department of State mentions the ruling made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague on July 12, 2016 constituted under the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), which states China’s claims to historic rights and resources within its nine-dash line have no legal basis.

Ambassador Nguyen Quoc Cuong, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam, told VOV in a recent interview that US Department of State statement marks an important change in the US’s policy in the East Sea, with the US moving away from its neutral position. The US Department of State and the US Department of Commerce announced on August 26 that sanctions will be imposed on 24 firms and dozens of Chinese individuals that participate in the illegal transformation and militarisation of features in the East Sea, Japan Times cited.

chinas unlawful claims on bien dong sea faces strong international opposition
An aerial view of the Subi Reef, one of the tiny islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea (Photo: EPA)

Australia strongly criticize China's claims

July 24 saw Australia send a note to the United Nations to officially reject China’s claims to “historic rights” and “maritime rights and interests” established by the “historical practice” in the East Sea.

Australia stated that China had “no legal basis… to draw straight baselines connecting the outermost points of maritime features or ‘island groups’ in the East Sea”, with specific reference made to what China calls the “four sha”, made up of the the Pratas islands, Macclesfield Bank, the Paracel islands, and the Spratly islands, Al Jazeera cited.

Carl Thayer, Emeritus Professor at The University of New South Wales and Director of Thayer Consultancy published an article named "Austraia abandon its neutrality on the South China Sea maritime disputes" which states that "Australia’s submission of a Note Verbale to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLSC) on July 23 changed previous policy and came in the wake of a major change in US policy made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 10 days earlier."

Australia also expressed its “strong concern” over assertions by China that it had “continuously and effectively” exercised sovereignty over low tide elevations precisely because low tide elevations “do not form part of the land territory of a State", according to The Diplomat.

Other countries also raise their voice

Moreover, between June and July, Indonesia and Malaysia also issued notes to denounce China’s unlawful claims in the East Sea. Even Brunei, the most silent country among the East Sea claimants, also voiced their strong support for negotiations that follow the guidance of the UNCLOS 1982, as well as the rules and principles set out in international law, VOV cited.

Four years following the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the East Sea has rapidly become the most contentious issue globally, with the northern neighbour coming under fire for its aggressive actions in the region.

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Valerie Mai