US identifies “excessive maritime claims’ in South China Sea

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Annual Freedom of Navigation report documents “excessive maritime claims” in hotly contested region.

According to the US Department of Defence‘s 2020 Annual Freedom of Navigation Report, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have all made “excessive maritime claims” in the South China Sea. The report details instances where coastal countries in the region have made attempts to unlawfully restrict the rights and freedoms of navigation, overflight, and other lawful uses of the sea.

The claims, the report said, are made through laws, regulations, or other pronouncements that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.

“If left unchallenged, excessive maritime claims could permanently infringe upon the freedom of the seas enjoyed by all nations,” the US Defence Department said in the report.

China is listed as having the greatest number of recorded instances of irregular activities in the South China Sea and the US, citing the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, said all nations have the rights and freedoms to engage in traditional uses of the seas.

The US report said: “As a nation with both a vast coastline and a significant maritime presence, the United States is committed to preserving this legal balance as an essential part of the stable, rules-based international order,” it said.

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