WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – The US government is now formally rejecting China’s extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea. China’s claims on raw materials in much of the ocean are “totally illegal,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday. The same applies to the campaign to intimidate other Asian countries. “The world will not allow China to treat the South China Sea as a maritime territory,” said Pompeo. The United States sought to guarantee peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the area in accordance with international law, he said.
China’s communist leadership has no right to undermine the sovereignty of Asian coastal states in order to enrich themselves with raw materials, it said. The controversial sea area lies between China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. Beijing uses 80 percent of the resource-rich sea through which major shipping routes pass. The International Arbitration Court in The Hague rejected the territorial claims in 2016. China ignores the verdict.
The United States has already rejected Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. Now the attitude of the U.S. government is also being formally aligned with the 2016 ruling, Pompeo said. Territorial claims against Brunei and Indonesia based on developed islands would also not be recognized. Fishing is practiced in the lake area, and there are also oil and gas deposits. The U.S. military had just sent two aircraft carriers to exercise in the sea area earlier this month.
The US government’s statement may initially have little concrete impact – but it is likely to anger China. Relations between Beijing and Washington are extremely tense. The United States is heavily accusing China of dealing with the corona pandemic. There are also numerous other disputes between the world’s largest economies, including trade and Hong Kong./jbz/DP/he