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Japan, Canada, US Voice Against China's Rejection of PCA's 2016 Ruiling

Valerie Mai Valerie Mai

mnghonganh@gmail.com

July 12, 2021 | 14:11

5 years after the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal’s award, countries continue to raise their voices against China's noncompliance with the ruling.

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Japan, Canada, US Voice Against China's Rejection of PCA's 2016 Ruiling
A part of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Spratly) Islands. (Photo: Baoquocte)

July 12, 2021 marks the 5 years anniversary of PCA's 2016 ruling on the South China Seas (Bien Dong Sea in Vietnamese). On this occasion, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Canada's Global Affairs issued statements re-affirming the ruling's value.

Japan: All maritime claims must be based on the relevant provisions of UNCLOS

Japan's statement says: "As the Tribunal’s award is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the parties to this case, the Philippines and China, are required to comply with the award."

The statement emphasizes that China's noncompliance with the ruling "is against the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS, and undermines the rule of law as a fundamental value of the international community."

Given the universality and comprehensiveness of UNCLOS, the country says that all maritime claims must be based on the relevant provisions of UNCLOS. Japan also renews its objection to maritime claims in the South China Sea that are inconsistent with UNCLOS.

Japan reiterates its strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion and will continue working in coordination with ASEAN and other countries concerned to maintain and strengthen the maritime order based on the rule of law, and to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Japan, Canada, US Voice Against China's Rejection of PCA's 2016 Ruiling
Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu. (Photo: SCMP)

Canada: Particularly concerned by China’s escalatory

In the statement released by Canada's Global Affairs, the country reiterates the need for all involved parties to comply with UNCLOS. "This decision is a significant milestone and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea," the statement says.

"Canada is particularly concerned by China’s escalatory and destabilizing actions in the East and South China Seas, including, recently, off the Philippine coast, and by the militarization of disputed features and the use of naval, coast guard and maritime militia vessels to intimidate and threaten the ships of other states."

Canada, therefore, calls on all states, including China, to live up to previous commitments made in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The country is pleased to see that ASEAN members and China have resumed negotiations to develop a code of conductfor the South China Sea (COC) and encourage transparency in these negotiations.

Canada stresses that it supports lawful commerce, navigation, and overflight rights, as well as the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal states in the South China Sea, exercised in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS.

"These principles are essential to a secure, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," the statement says. “Canada is committed to defending and revitalizing an effective rules-based international order, including for the oceans and seas, and to the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.”

Japan, Canada, US Voice Against China's Rejection of PCA's 2016 Ruiling
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Photo: AP News)

US: Biden backs Trump rejection of China’s South China Sea claim

The Biden administration on Sunday upheld a Trump-era rejection of nearly all of China’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea, AP News reported.

Ahead of the fourth anniversary of the ruling last year, the Trump administration came out in favor of the ruling, saying it regarded as illegitimate virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea outside China’s internationally recognized waters. Sunday’s statement reaffirms that position, which had been laid out by Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

“Nowhere is the rules-based maritime order under greater threat than in the South China Sea,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, using language similar to Pompeo’s. He accused China of continuing “to coerce and intimidate Southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway.”

“We call on (China) to abide by its obligations under international law, cease its provocative behavior, and take steps to reassure the international community that it is committed to the rules-based maritime order that respects the rights of all countries, big and small,” Blinken said.

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said earlier this year that the country supported the maintenance of peace and stability in the region, security, safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation, and the principle of respect for the law on seas and oceans, in accordance with the provisions of international law and the 1982 UNCLOS. The full implementation of the UNCLOS in good faith and responsibility is essential, Nhan Dan quoted the spokesperson.

Vietnam welcomes other countries’ stance on the Bien Dong Sea issue in accordance with international law, the 1982 UNCLOS, and shares the view expressed in the 36th ASEAN Summit’s statement, and the Joint Communiqué of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 53), which states that the 1982 UNCLOS is the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas, Hang said.

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Valerie Mai