US declares maritime claims in South China sea illegal.
Image Credit: US Navy Photo
On Monday, secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced that the US rejected all of China’s maritime claims in the South China sea. Tension between the US and China was already high due to the trade tariffs and coronavirus pandemic.
A top US diplomat said that, ‘Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.’
‘The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China sea as its maritime empire. 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.’
Around 1.3 million square miles of South China sea are considered to be Chinese territory by China. Several years ago, satellite images showed China carrying out land reclamation on reefs. On these lands China built military bases and also a runway, on lands that which are not claimed by them by law. This has caused an uproar in several countries where most of that area consisting of both land and water, is claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
On Monday, the Chinese Embassy in Washington expressed its anger over the US announcement, by saying that the accusations are ‘completely unjustified’.
Mike Pompeo on Monday also said that the US will align with a decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016, which sided with Philippines regarding the south China sea.
An analyst with the center for strategic and international studies in Washington DC, said that, ‘This is basically the first time we have called it illegitimate.’
The decision rejected any Chinese claim for the south China sea. A US top diplomat said, ‘As the United States has previously stated, and as specifically provided in the Convention, the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both parties.’
US sent 2 aircraft carriers to the region, USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan to carry out tactical exercises as a show of strength. They are ‘designed to maximize air defence capabilities, and extend the reach of long-range precision maritime strikes from carrier-based aircraft in a rapidly evolving area of operations.’
This is the first time US sent aircraft carriers since 2014.