Australia rejects China’s sovereignty claims in South China Sea

Sydney, Australia, Jul 25 (efe-epa).- Australia has rejected China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, saying they had “no legal basis.”

In a submission to the United Nations late Friday, Australia said: “Australia rejects China’s claim to ‘historic rights’ or ‘maritime rights and interests’ as established in the ‘long course of historical practice’ in the South China Sea.”

The document, which references a 2016 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, said: “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,” it continued.

The move is likely to add fuel to diplomatic tensions between China and Australia but will be welcomed by the likes of the United States.

On July 13, Washington said Chinese territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea were “unlawful.”

“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” an official statement said.

The Chinese ambassador to the US was quick to respond, saying Washington sought to stoke tensions in the region.

China claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, a strategically important maritime trade route. But countries such as Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim territory there.

Although the US has taken a stand against China’s expansion in the region, it upholds the policy that disputes should be settled between the involved parties in Southeast Asia.EFE-EPA

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