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US protests China’s unlawful East Sea claims at UN

13:55 | 03/06/2020

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (U.N) recently sent a diplomatic note to Secretary General António Guterres protesting China’s unlawful claims in the East Sea (Bien Dong Sea in Vietnamese or called South China Sea).

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

The US Mission to the United Nations (UN) has sent a circular note to head of the UN to oppose China’s claims in the Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea) that Washington calls “unlawful”, the mission said on its website on Monday.

In a letter sent to Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, Kelly Craft, US Ambassador, US Representative to the UN, said the US “rejects these maritime claims as inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.”

“I request that you circulate the enclosed letter to all UN Member States as a document of the General Assembly under Agenda Item 74(a) and of the Security Council, and that you post it on the web page of the Office of Legal Affairs, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea,” said the letter.

us protests chinas unlawful east sea claims at un
US Ambassador, US Representative to the UN's full letter.

The note was sent on Monday by U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft in response to one sent by the Permanent Mission of China to the U.N. on December 12 last year in response to Malaysia’s submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) dated December 12, 2019.

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

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday posted on Twitter the diplomatic note, which says: "Today, the U.S. protests the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) unlawful South China Sea maritime claims at the U.N."

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

China’s note had said it has "sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao, consisting of Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao," based on "historic rights in the South China Sea."

Nanhai Zhudao refers to Bien Dong Sea (South China Sea) islands, Dongsha Qundao to Pratas Islands, Xisha Qundao to Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands, Zhongsha Qundao to the Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal, and Nansha Qundao to Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Spratly ) Islands.

Vietnam rejected and protested China’s note with one of its own on March 30, which said China’s claims "seriously violate Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction rights over the East Sea."

Vietnam calls the South China Sea the East Sea ( Bien Dong Sea).

China unlawfully claims about 90% of the East Sea (South China Sea), including the archipelago of islands, reefs and atolls known as the Truong Sa (Spratlys) and almostly the entire East Sea (South China Sea), including waters close to Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

While China has historically preferred to handle all disputes bilaterally, the resumption of negotiations between Beijing and ASEAN still holds promise for reinvigorating a multilateral framework toward greater cooperation and conflict resolution.

The US is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 while China and Vietnam are.

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Tarah Nguyen