China cannot assert maritime claims using 9-dash line, historic rights – US, Australia

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During the 30th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN 2020) on July 28, Australia and United States expressed serious concerns over recent coercive and destabilizing actions across the Indo-Pacific.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Australia Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, and Australia Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds attended the said meeting.

“In line with the 2016 decision of the Arbitral Tribunal, they affirmed that Beijing’s maritime claims are not valid under international law.  Specifically, they affirmed that the PRC cannot assert maritime claims in the South China Sea based on the “nine-dash line,” “historic rights,” or entire South China Sea island groups, which are incompatible with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the officials said in a joint statement released after the meeting.

“They noted that the 2016 Arbitral Award is final and binding on both parties and emphasized that all claims in the South China Sea must be made and resolved in accordance with international law,” the joint statement said.

“They also expressed their support for the rights of claimants to lawfully exploit offshore resources, including in relation to long-standing oil and gas projects as well as fisheries in the South China Sea, free from harassment and coercion,” it added.

“They welcomed the recent ASEAN Leaders statement that a South China Sea Code of Conduct should be consistent with UNCLOS, and emphasized that any Code should not prejudice the rights or interests of States under international law or undermine existing regional architecture, and should strengthen the commitment of parties not to engage in actions that complicate or escalate disputes, notably militarization of disputed features,” the joint statement said.