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Cardin Statement on Philippines v. China Law of Sea Ruling

Senator also calls for UNCLOS ratification

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement Tuesday after the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea issued a ruling in the case ‘The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China’, finding that there is no legal basis for China’s claims within the ‘Nine Dash Line’ and that none of the features claimed by China are capable of generating an exclusive economic zone:

“I welcome that a ruling has been issued today by the arbitral tribunal in the case of “The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China,” and view it as binding on both parties involved. The choices of the Philippines, China and other members of the regional community will determine whether or not the Asia-Pacific region is guided by international law, institutions, and norms. I also encourage other South China Sea claimants to seek resolution of maritime disputes through peaceful means, whether through diplomatic processes among the parties or through third party mechanisms such as arbitration. 

“The United States must continue to be clear and consistent in our policy to oppose unilateral actions by any claimant seeking to change the status quo in the South China Sea through the use of coercion, intimidation, or military force, engaging in land reclamation activities on disputed features in the South China Sea, or the militarization of any reclaimed features.

“In keeping with the international law of the sea as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, I expect that the United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, both in the South China Sea and around the world.

“Today’s outcome would not have been possible without the commitment of the Philippines government to pursue a course of action to resolve these maritime disputes peacefully, consistent with international law, and through international legal mechanisms. The United States remains committed to our ally in Manila and to the responsibilities resident in our Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. We also look forward to further developing our longstanding relationship and alliance with the Philippines in the years ahead.

“Finally, today’s ruling also underscores the need for the Senate to take action to ratify the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.  As we seek to work with our partners in the region to construct a twenty-first century architecture for the governance of Asia’s maritime domains consistent with international law, the United States cannot, and should not, risk marginalization by remaining on the outside of this critically important global agreement.