US lays out case against ‘unlawful’ China maritime claims

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday (Jan 12) laid out its most detailed case yet against Beijing’s “unlawful” claims in the South China Sea, rejecting both the geographic and historic bases for its vast, divisive map.

In a 47-page research paper, the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs said China had no basis under international law for claims that have put Beijing on a collision course with the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations.

“The overall effect of these maritime claims is that the PRC unlawfully claims sovereignty or some form of exclusive jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea,” the paper said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“These claims gravely undermine the rule of law in the oceans and numerous universally recognised provisions of international law reflected in the Convention,” it said, referring to a 1982 UN treaty on the law of the sea ratified by China – but not the United States.

Releasing the study, a State Department statement called again on Beijing “to cease its unlawful and coercive activities in the South China Sea”.

The paper is an update of a 2014 study that similarly disputed the so-called “nine-dash line” that forms the basis for much of Beijing’s stance.