Washington, DC – A bipartisan group of senators called recent actions by Chinese ships in the South China Sea “deeply troubling,” and urged their colleagues to pass a senate resolution reaffirming support of the U.S. government for freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime disputes.
The statement was issued by the co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 412, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Risch (R-ID), and John McCain (R-AZ) – all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“China’s recent movement of an oil drilling rig escorted by military and other ships into disputed waters in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam -- and the subsequent aggressive tactics used by Chinese ships, including the ramming of Vietnamese ships – is deeply troubling. These actions threaten the free flow of global commerce in a vital region. China’s unilateral declaration of an air defense identification zone in November and its ongoing harassment of Japanese vessels around Japanese-administered territory in the East China Sea all raise serious questions about China’s approach to regional security.
“Freedom of navigation, including freedom of operation for the U.S. Navy and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace in East Asia, are important to the prosperity of the United States and to the safety of the entire region. We urge the administration to make clear to China at the highest levels that territorial claims and disputes must be resolved peacefully, diplomatically and consistent with international law. Unilateral attempts to change the status quo or the use of force, coercion and intimidation are unacceptable and will only lead to instability.
“In April, we introduced a resolution which reaffirms U.S. support for freedom of navigation and operation in the region and urges all parties involved in territorial claims and disputes to seek peaceful diplomatic resolution of those disputes. We hope that our colleagues will join us in sending a strong message in response to these provocative actions by passing the resolution as soon as possible.”