The United States and China clashed on Monday during a high-level meeting on maritime security chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modiwhere Washington claims it has seen “provocative actions” to promote illegal maritime claims in the South China Sea of Beijing, which responded that America is not qualified to make “irresponsible remarks” on the issue.
Prime Minister Modi chaired the high-level virtual open debate on maritime security, one of the three signature events during India’s current presidency of the powerful 15-nation UN body. The meeting was later chaired by Foreign Minister S Jaishankar as Foreign Ministers and UN envoys made their national declarations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of “some of the critical areas where we see maritime rules and principles threatened.”
“In the South China Sea, we have seen dangerous encounters between ships at sea and provocative actions to promote illegal maritime claims,” Blinken said in a thinly veiled attack on China, which claims nearly the entire 1.3 million square kilometers of southern China. The sea as its sovereign territory.
China has built military bases on artificial islands in the region, which Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim.
“The United States has made clear its concerns about actions that intimidate and bully other states from legally accessing their maritime resources. And we and other countries, including plaintiffs from the South China Sea, have protested against such behavior and illegal maritime claims. in the South China Sea, ”said Blinken.
“Some might argue that resolving the dispute in the South China Sea is not the responsibility of the United States or any other country to the islands and waters. But it is the business of each Member State, and even more so, the responsibility to defend the rules as we have all agreed to follow and peacefully resolve maritime conflicts.
“Conflict in the South China Sea or in any other sea would have serious global consequences for security and trade. What’s more, when a state does not face any consequences for ignoring these rules, it fuels greater impunity and instability everywhere, ”Blinken said.
China’s Deputy Permanent Representative Dai Bing, speaking at the end of the meeting, said he wanted to “point out that the Security Council is not the right place to discuss the South China Sea issue. The United States just mentioned the South China Sea issue and China is strong against this action. “
He said that at present “with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable. All countries enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law. “
The Chinese diplomat said Beijing was “determined and able to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
He lashed out at Washington, saying the United States itself is not qualified to make irresponsible comments on the South China Sea issue.
“The United States has created problems out of nothing, arbitrarily sending advanced military vessels and aircraft into the South China Sea as provocations and publicly trying to strike a wedge in regional countries, especially the countries concerned.
“This country has in itself become the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea. The United States does not accede to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), but considers itself a convention judge pointing fingers at other countries,” he said. he added that Washington has no credibility in maritime affairs.
“The US hype in the Security Council is completely politically motivated. The arbitral tribunal in the South China Sea violated the principle of state consent,” the Chinese diplomat said, adding that “there were obvious errors in the determination of the facts and application of the law, and its order was invalid and without any binding force. “
He said China and the ASEAN countries are committed to fully and effectively implementing the declaration on the conduct of the parties in the South China Sea and strive to reach the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at an early stage.
Blinken referred to the unanimous and legally binding decision five years ago by the Arbitral Tribunal set up under the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, “which certainly rejects illegal, expansive maritime claims from the South China Sea as incompatible with international law.”
He stressed that Washington has consistently called on all countries to adapt their maritime requirements to international law of the sea, as reflected in the 1982 Convention.
“This is in line with the peaceful settlement of disputes and the sovereignty of member states, which are core principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,” he said, adding that efforts to resolve maritime disputes through threats or use of force run counter to these principles. .
Blinken conveyed Washington’s gratitude to Prime Minister Modi for “bringing us together for this critically important discussion” on maritime security and for “India’s leadership on these issues,” especially in the Indo-Pacific.
He said that despite having a clear international law that nations have committed to abide by and upholding, and despite the indispensable role that maritime order has played in promoting economic activity, security cooperation, scientific innovation, environmental sustainability, the order is under serious threat.
“That is why I am grateful for India’s leadership in bringing us together today and calling on all nations to once again commit themselves to defending and strengthening the maritime rules and principles that we forge together and commit to upholding.”