US urges China to comply with arbitral ruling, cease provocative acts in South China Sea

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“The United States again urges China to conform its maritime claims to international law as reflected in the Convention; to comply with the Tribunal’s July 12, 2016 decision; and to cease its provocative activities in the South China Sea,” United States Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft said in a letter sent to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

“The United States objects to China’s claim to “historic rights” in the South China Sea to the extent that claim exceeds the maritime entitlements that China could assert consistent with international law as reflected in the [1982 Law of the Sea Convention],” Craft said.

“The United States notes in this regard that the Tribunal (The South China Sea Arbitration – The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China – arbitral tribunal) unanimously concluded in its ruling—which is final and binding on China and the Philippines under Article 296 of the Convention—that China’s claim to historic rights is incompatible with the Convention to the extent it exceeds the limits of China’s possible maritime zones as specifically provided for in the Convention,” the US representative to UN said.

“In asserting such vast maritime claims in the South China Sea, China purports to restrict the rights and freedoms, including the navigational rights and freedoms, enjoyed by all States. The United States objects to these claims to the extent they exceed the entitlements China could claim under international law as reflected in the Convention. The United States notes that the governments of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia have separately conveyed their legal objections to the maritime claims set out in China’s Note Verbale No. CML/14/2019,” she explained.