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US State Dept. issues report countering China's SCS claims

New report says China undermining rule of law on high seas

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Chinese Coast Guard vessel patrolling in South China Sea in April 2021. 

Chinese Coast Guard vessel patrolling in South China Sea in April 2021.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. State Department issued a report on Wednesday (Jan. 12) repudiating China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The report said that China “unlawfully claims sovereignty or some form of exclusive jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea.” It said Beijing’s actions, including its so-called “historic claims” to virtually all of the sea, “gravely undermine the rule of law.”

Dubbed “Limits in the Seas,” the report states that China’s declaration of “historic rights” to the maritime area lacks “substantive content” and is “deficient for its vagueness.” The report points out that Beijing cannot prove the historical validity of its claims, so its pretense that territorial claims are “protected by international law” is false.

A case in point is the decision by an international tribunal in The Hague in 2016. The court ruled that Beijing’s claim had “no legal basis” according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — an agreement China is a signatory of.

China refused to accept this ruling and has continued to construct artificial islands throughout the sea. It has also militarized certain outposts, building runways and setting up rocket systems, communications and various other equipment.