The United States has branded China’s new rule of requiring all foreign ships entering the South China Sea area to register with Chinese maritime authorities as a “serious threat” to freedom of navigation and trade.
WASHINGTON DC — In a statement, the Pentagon appears to have dismissed Beijing’s new demand, saying that “the United States remains firm that any coastal state law, or regulation must not infringe upon navigation and overflight rights enjoyed by all nations under international law.”
According to the Pentagon’s spokesman John Supple, “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea, pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade, and unimpeded lawful commerce, and the rights and interests of South China Sea and other littoral nations.”
Supple’s comments came two days after China announced that foreign vessels entering Chinese ‘territorial waters’ would have to report their ship and cargo information to the country’s maritime authorities.
The rule, Chinese authorities said, is supposed to apply to the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the various islands and reefs dotted across the water that Beijing claims as its inalienable territory.
China’s vast claims to the resource-rich waterways–among the busiest sea lanes in the world–have been a source of growing tension between Beijing, neighboring governments, and Washington for years.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have competing and overlapping claims in the South China Sea, and Japan and South Korea have their own disputes with Beijing in the East China Sea.
Five years ago, an international tribunal ruled that Beijing’s sweeping claims of almost the entire South China Sea had no legal basis.
But the disputes could trigger conflict between claimants as China continues aggressive posturing so the US military regularly conducts what it calls “freedom of navigation” exercises in the region, meant to assert the waterways’ status as international sea routes.
“The United States remains committed to upholding the rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” says Supple. (TRC/The MiNT)
Featured image: USS Kidd steams through the Taiwan Strait on 27 August 2021. /Credit: Kaylianna Genier/U.S. Navy