Mike Pompeo: The South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 25 that the South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire
July 26, 2020 | 13:40
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In a fresh salvo at China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 25 that the South China Sea (called Bien Dong Sea in Vietnam) is not China’s maritime empire.

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Mike Pompeo said in a tweet that the South China Sea is not China's maritime empire.

The United States’ policy is crystal clear: The South China Sea is not China’s maritime empire. If Beijing violates international law and free nations do nothing, history shows the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) will simply take more territory. China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law,” Pompeo said in a tweet.

On July 13, in a press statement about the US position on maritime claims in the South China Sea, he affirmed 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.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Reuters)

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),” he noted.

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.

In June, Pompeo posted on Twitter a diplomatic note, which says: "Today, the US protests the PRC’s unlawful South China Sea maritime claims at the UN."

"We reject these claims as unlawful and dangerous. Member States must unite to uphold international law and freedom of the seas."

The note was sent to the UN by US Ambassador Kelly Craft in response to one sent by the Permanent Mission of China to the UN on December 12 last year in response to Malaysia’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

"The US rejects these maritime claims as inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention," the note read.

Australia backs the US, rejecting China's claims in South China Sea

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China's warships have been keeping a close eye on vessels in parts of the disputed South China Sea. (Photo: Reuters)

In a letter to the UN on July 23, Australia said “Australia rejects China’s claim to ‘historic rights’ or ‘maritime rights and interests’ as established in the ‘long course of historical practice’ in the South China Sea,” according to The Guardian.

It notes “the Tribunal in the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award found these claims to be inconsistent with UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and, to the extent of that inconsistency, invalid”.

Specifically, Australia rejects China’s insistence on holding “historic rights” to the South China Sea, the drawing of “baselines” to connect its occupied rocks in Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) artchipelagoes, and China’s claim to maritime zones around completely submerged features and around features only visible at low-tide conditions.

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Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. (Photo: AFP)

There is no legal basis for China to draw straight baselines connecting the outermost points of maritime features or ‘island groups’ in the South China Sea, including around the ‘Four Sha’ or ‘continental’ or ‘outlying’ archipelagos,” it said.

Australia rejects any claims to internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf based on such straight baselines.

“Australia also rejects China’s claims to maritime zones generated by submerged features, or low-tide elevations in a manner inconsistent with UNCLOS. Land building activities or other forms of artificial transformation cannot change the classification of a feature under UNCLOS … the Australian government does not accept that artificially transformed features can ever acquire the status of an island.”/.

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