The Hanoitimes - The letter has been the third statement made by US officials against China’s aggression in the South China Sea in the past two weeks.
Four US senators have voiced against China’s aggression in the South China Sea, calling it “deeply troubling”, and call on Secretary of State Pompeo to call for a coordinated policy response to Beijing’s belligerence with the US’s allies in the region.
In a letter dated July 31, Sen. Jim Risch and Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Sen. Cory Gardner, and Sen. Edward Markey, chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, highlighted China’s recent unlawful activities in the South China Sea.
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel. Photo: AP
“Surveying operations by a state-owned Chinese vessel inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone – and the deployments of China’s Coast Guard ships – are only the latest evidence of China’s willingness to use coercion to assert unlawful claims in the South China Sea,” said Risch.
He suggested identifying concrete ways to push back on China’s aggressive activities in the South China Sea should be at the top of the United States’ agenda during ASEAN meetings in Bangkok this week. “Without a stronger rebuke of its behavior, China will continue to act with impunity in the South China Sea, to the detriment of our shared interests in advancing a truly free and open Indo-Pacific and upholding the rule of law.”
“It is critical that China be held to account for its behavior in the South China Sea,” said Menendez. “We need a strategy that reflects America’s deep and enduring interests in working with allies and partners to help build a South China Sea where international law is respected, freedom of navigation is ensured, commerce flows freely, multilateral regional organizations are central, and regional countries are not subject to coercion.”
“China’s militarization of the South China Sea and hostile actions toward other claimant states are illegal, destabilizing, and contrary to international law,” said Gardner.
“The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration made it clear years ago that China’s artificial island building violated international law, and all must respect freedom of navigation. The United States should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but until we do, we will act in accordance with it, and expect all other countries to do so as well.”
The letter has been the third statement made by US officials against China’s aggression in the South China Sea in the past two weeks.
On July 26, Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement that “China’s recent aggression in the South China Sea is a disturbing demonstration of a country openly flouting international law.”
Before that, the US Department of State had said July 20 that it was concerned by reports of China’s interference with Vietnam and other countries’ long-standing oil and gas activities.
“China’s repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states threaten regional energy security and undermine the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market,” said the department’s Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.