US strongly opposes China’s assertion of unlawful South China Sea claims

“We strongly oppose China’s efforts to assert its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea,” United States Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said during a press briefing on July 11.

On July 12, 2019, the arbitration tribunal’s decision regarding the case file by Philippines against China’s massive claim in West Philippine Sea marked its third year.

“The tribunal’s decision rejected China’s Nine-Dash Line maritime claim. The tribunal further made clear that drawing baselines around island groups in the South China Sea would be unlawful. Additionally, the tribunal found that China’s activities relating to the construction of artificial islands and the practices of Chinese fishermen violated the Law of the Seas Convention requirements for the protection of the maritime environment,” Ortagus said.

“The tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both parties subject to this arbitration, China and the Philippines,” she added.

She explained that by advancing the peaceful settlement of these disputes, the decision is a victory for the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.

She added that it is in the shared interest of the United States and other countries across the region to sustain the rules-based order so that each nation can reach its potential without sacrificing its national interest or its autonomy.

“China’s militarization of disputed outpost in the South China Sea betrays President Xi’s 2015 commitment not to engage in such activity. It is provocative, complicates the peaceful settlement of disputes, threatens the security of other nations, and undermines regional stability,” she added.

“We urge all states to conform their maritime claims to international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention and to resolve their territorial and maritime disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law,” she said.