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|Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton (Photo: Reuters)|
Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton has supported the US’s rejection of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea (known as East Sea in Vietnam), and called on the administration to take stronger actions against Beijing’s coercive behavior in the region.
|Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton writes on Twitter|
“I am happy to see the US has outright rejected all of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. This is not a Chinese province and will not be. It’s time to move beyond freedom of navigation exercise to oppose China’s coercive behavior in the region,” he tweeted on July 14.
Bolton expressed his view after US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo affirmed on July 13 that the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.
“As such, the United States rejects any PRC maritime claim in the waters surrounding Vanguard Bank (off Vietnam), Luconia Shoals (off Malaysia), waters in Brunei’s EEZ, and Natuna Besar (off Indonesia),” Pompeo said in a press statement about the US position on maritime claims in the South China Sea.
He stressed that any action conducted by China to harass other states’ fishing or hydrocarbon development in these waters – or to carry out such activities unilaterally – is unlawful.
China’s immediate reaction
After the US announced its position, the Chinese Embassy in the US has raised its voice, calling the former’s statement “distorts the facts” and “exaggerates the situation.”
It said China’s position on the South China Sea issue has been consistent and clear-cut, noting that 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.
“The situation of the South China Sea has remained peaceful and stable and is still improving. China and other littoral countries have maintained dialogue and communication through consultation mechanisms on maritime affairs, and worked to promote cooperation over the South China Sea. Within the framework of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, China and ASEAN countries are advancing the consultation on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and are making visible progress,” the embassy continued.
It affirmed that the US is not a country directly involved in the disputes. However, it has kept interfering in the issue. 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.
“We advise the US side to earnestly honor its commitment of not taking sides on the issue of territorial sovereignty, respect regional countries’ efforts for a peaceful and stable South China Sea and stop its attempts to disrupt and sabotage regional peace and stability,” the Chinese side requested. /.
|Two aircraft carrier groups, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, conduct drills in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP/US Navy|
Over the past years, the US has conducted many freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea as a message opposing China’s illegal maritime claims in the region.
Earlier this month, it sent two aircraft carriers USS Reagan, USS Nimitz and a series of warships to the waters.
The exercise was planned for a long time but only after China conducted military exercises near the it-caused-disputed Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
China's drills near Vietnam's Hoang Sa have been criticized by the US, Vietnam and other countries
Meanwhile, USS Ronald Reagan's commander of the aircraft carrier combat group George M. Wikoff said the exercise would be a strong message to all US allies and partners which always commits to ensure regional stability and security.
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