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US moves to block all Chinese claims in South China Sea |NationalTribune.com

The Trump administration escalated its actions against China on Monday by stepping squarely into one of the most sensitive regional issues dividing them and rejecting outright nearly all of Beijing’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea. The administration presented the decision as an attempt to curb China’s increasing assertiveness in the region with…

US moves to block all Chinese claims in South China Sea |NationalTribune.com

The Trump administration escalated its actions against China on Monday by stepping squarely into one of the most sensitive regional issues dividing them and rejecting outright nearly all of Beijing’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The administration presented the decision as an attempt to curb China’s increasing assertiveness in the region with a commitment to recognising international law. But it will almost certainly have the more immediate effect of further infuriating the Chinese, who are already retaliating against numerous US sanctions and other penalties on other matters.
It also comes as President Donald Trump has come under growing fire for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, stepped up criticism of China in the run-up to the 2020 election and sought to paint his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, as weak on China.
Previously, US policy had been to insist that maritime disputes between China and its smaller neighbours be resolved peacefully through UN-backed arbitration. But in a statement released on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US now regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims outside its internationally recognised waters to be illegitimate. The shift does not involve disputes over land features that are above sea level, which are considered to be “territorial” in nature.
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” Pompeo said. “America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. We stand with the international community in defence of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose ‘might makes right’ in the South China Sea or the wider region.”

— Indo-Pacific News (@IndoPac_Info) July 13, 2020

Although the US will continue to remain neutral in territorial disputes, the announcement means the administration is in effect siding with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, all of which oppose Chinese assertions of sovereignty over maritime areas surrounding contested islands, reefs and shoals.
“There are clear cases where [China] is claiming sovereignty over areas that no country can lawfully claim,” the State Department said in a fact sheet that accompanied the statement.
The announcement was released a day after the fourth anniversary of a binding decision by an arbitration panel in favour of the Philippines that rejected China’s maritime claims around the Spratly Islands and neighbouring reefs and shoals.

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