China on 13 January defended its “historical rights” to more or less the entire South China Sea, after the US government denounced Beijing’s claims as false and invalid. The State Department issued a report, “Limits in the Seas” this month, criticising Beijing’s maritime claims as “unlawful” rejecting its geographical and historical bases for its vast and divisive map.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called the reports an attempt to “distort international law, to mislead the public, create contention and disrupt the regional situation.”
Wang said, “China has historical rights in the South China Sea. Sovereignty and its related rights and interests have been established in the South China Sea in a long period of history and are consistent with international law.”
Wang in a briefing said, “The US refuses to sign a treaty but portrays itself as a judge and hotheadedly distorts the treaty.” The Foreign Ministry claims that the US does this to seek its own selfish interest and carry out political manipulation.
The 47-page research paper, issued by the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs postulated China to have no basis under international Law for claims that have put Beijing on a perilous level with the Philippines, Vietnam and other southeast Asian nations. The State Department called out Beijing to “cease its unlawful and coercive activities in the South China Sea.”
The region has been an issue of conflict due to six other governments as they claim all or part of the strategically important waterway, through which global trade of estimated $5 Trillion takes place every year and holds rich but fast declining fishing stocks and crucial undersea oil and gas deposits.
The US holds no official position in the region, but is responsible for maintaining the absolute right to operate in what it insists are international waters. The Wenbin defended itself by calling the ruling as “illegal and null and void” and “China does not accept or recognise it.”