US Senators condemn China’s activities in East Sea

Leaders of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have slammed China's recent unlawful activities in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Vietnam.

Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Cory Gardner and Edward Markey, chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, issued the statements as US officials met ASEAN nations and other regional partners in Bangkok this week.

Republican Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of the committee, said surveying operations by a state-owned Chinese vessel inside Vietnam's exclusive economic zone � and the deployment of China's Coast Guard ships � are only the latest evidence of China's willingness to use coercion to assert unlawful claims in the South China Sea. He added it is crucial that the US' partners in the region, particularly ASEAN countries, stand together and stand firm against China's coercion. Without a stronger rebuke of its behavior, China will continue to act with impunity in the South China Sea, to the detriment of the shared interests in advancing a truly free and open Indo-Pacific and upholding the rule of law, he noted.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez underscored that it is essential to have a strategy that reflects America's deep and enduring interests in working with allies and partners to help build a South China Sea where international law is respected, freedom of navigation is ensured, commerce flows freely, multilateral regional organizations are central, and regional countries are not subject to coercion.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner, Chairman of the subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, stated that China's militarization of the South China Sea and hostile actions toward other claimant states are illegal, destabilising, and contrary to international law. He said he expects that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will use this opportunity to emphasize that the US will always stand by its ASEAN partners.

Democratic Senator Edward Markey, Ranking Member of the subcommittee, said China's actions in the South China Sea � one of the most important bodies of water on the planet � are deeply troubling. Mr. Markey voiced his support for diplomatic efforts to maintain peace in the South China Sea, and for the US' Southeast Asian allies and partners in their efforts, including at this week's ASEAN Regional Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. He said the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration made it clear years ago that China's artificial island building violated international law, and all must respect freedom of navigation. He added that the US should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but until they do, they will act in accordance with it, and expect all other countries to do so as well.

Four US senators last week called on Secretary Mike Pompeo to raise his voice against China's action in the East Sea.

The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week issued a statement, saying China violates Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Source: VOV5