On Thursday, July 23, Australia declared before the United Nations that there is “no legal basis” for the territorial and maritime claims made by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the South China Sea, thus aligning itself with the position of the United States.
“Australia rejects China’s [the CCP’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 statement said as reported by Reuters.
Australia also did not accept the position of the CCP that its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands was “widely recognized by the international community,” in response to objections from Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
According to the statement, “The tribunal in the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award found these claims to be inconsistent with UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and, to the extent of that inconsistency, invalid.”
“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,” it said.
The CCP claims 90 percent of potentially energy-rich waters, yet Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan likewise claim parts.
Australia released the statement after the United States reaffirmed its position and accused the Chinese Communist Party of using “intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of the coastal states of Southeast Asia in the South China Sea.
The United States rejected intimidation of countries in the region with extraterritorial resources, reaffirming unilateral dominance and replacing international law with its vision of “might makes right” applied in the region.
As The Guardian noted, next week Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Linda Reynolds will travel to the United States for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
With regard to the right of navigation in the South China Sea, Australia has always taken a position in favor of freedom of access to that area.
According to Reuters, its more open stance comes after Pompeo accused the CCP of failing to provide a coherent legal basis for its South China Sea ambitions.
Reuters said that diplomatic tensions between Australia and the Chinese Communist Party increased greatly after Australia pleaded with the international community to investigate the origin of the CCP Virus, whose outbreak began in the city of Wuhan.