China defends sweeping maritime claims after US criticism – Community News
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China defends sweeping maritime claims after US criticism

BEIJING: China defended its “historic rights” to virtually the entire South China Sea on Thursday, following a new US government report that Beijing’s claims are almost completely invalid.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the Foreign Ministry’s “Limits in the Seas” report, released this month, an attempt to “twist international law, confuse the public.” , sow discord and disrupt the regional situation”.
“China has historic rights in the South China Sea. China’s sovereignty and related rights and interests in the South China Sea are grounded in a long history and consistent with international law,” Wang said.
The vast maritime region is tense as six other governments claim all or part of the strategically vital waterway, through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade travels annually and which contains rich but rapidly declining fish stocks and significant undersea oil and gas reserves.
The US does not have an official position on who owns what is in the sea, but retains the absolute right to operate in what it believes to be international waters.
That includes naval warships sailing past Chinese-occupied features, including artificial islands equipped with airstrips and other military facilities.
The US report said Beijing’s claim “has no legal basis and is alleged by (China) with no specificity as to the nature or geographic scope of the claimed historic rights.”
The US study also said China’s claim to sovereignty that included more than 100 features that were submerged at high tide, violated international law; that the fencing of vast tracts of sea was not supported by international law; and that the practice of claiming maritime zones based on labeling each island group as a whole “is not permitted by international law”.
China’s “extensive maritime claims in the South China Sea violate international law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the study said.
“The overall effect of these maritime claims is that (China) is unlawfully claiming sovereignty or some form of exclusive jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea,” it said.
In his response, Wang said the US “arbitrarily misinterprets the treaty, engages in multi-standard political manipulation for its own selfish interests, and undermines the international rule of law.”
He also renewed China’s criticism of a 2016 international arbitration ruling that largely invalidated Beijing’s claims.
The ruling is “illegal and void. China does not accept or recognize it,” Wang said.

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