Australia Rejects Beijings Claims to South China Sea, Joining US

Australia has formally declared that Chinas major maritime claims in the South China Sea have “no legal basis” and are invalid.

The move comes after the United States formally rejected Beijings claims to the South China Sea earlier this month.

The Australian government said in a declaration filed at the United Nations in New York that it rejects any of the Chinese regimes claims to key parts of the South China Sea that are inconsistent with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (pdf).

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, citing the so-called “nine dash line,” a vaguely-defined U-shaped delineation that carves out the regions where it claims “historic rights” to resources within the sea.

In its declaration (pdf) dated July 23, Australias mission to the U.N. said that it “rejects Chinas claim to historic rights or maritime rights and interests as established in the long course of historical practice in the South China Sea.”

Similar to the United States, Australia cited the 2016 ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that found that the CCPs claims of historic rights to resources in the South China Sea in waters also contested by the Philippines had “no legal basis.” At the time, the CCPs Foreign Ministry did not acknowledge the tribunals decision, saying it was “null and void.”

Australias statement goes on to say, “There is no legal basis for China to draw straight baselines connecting the outermost points of maritime features or island groups in the South China Sea, including around the Four Sha or continental or outlying archipelagos.

“Australia rejects any claims to internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf based on such straight baselines.”

Australia also rejected the CCPs sovereignty claims to the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands as being “widely recognized by the international community,” by citing recent protests by Vietnam and the Philippines to the areas.

The CCP has in recent years constructed artificial islands equipped with naval and air bases in surrounding areas to the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in an apparent bid to assert its claim over the regions, in addition to increasing its overall military presence in the South China Sea.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
A map showing waters disputed by China in the South China Sea. (UNCLOS and the CIA)

Other countries with territorial claims to the resource-rich South China Sea include the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

“The Australian government encourages all claimants in the South China Sea, including China, to clarify their maritime claims and resolve their differences peacefully, in accordance with international law, particularly UNCLOS,” Australias statement reads.

Australias declaration comes ahead of high-level “AUSMIN” talks between Australia and the United States in Washington on July 28, in which Australian DRead More – Source