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U.S. takes stronger tone in criticizing China’s territorial claims

  • 2015-07-23 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: July 23, 2015 – p. 7)


 With respect to the issue of reclamation work by China in the South China Sea, U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary Russel (in charge of East Asian and Pacific Affairs) on July 21 took a stronger tone than in the past in criticizing over China’s claim that the islands and reefs within the U-shaped “nine-dash line” belong to China. Amid growing tension with the Philippines and Vietnam over China’s construction of artificial islands, the assistant secretary’s remarks seem to be aimed at ratcheting up the pressure on China.


 Russel made the comment during a lecture at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a public policy research institution. With China in mind, the assistant secretary said, “There is a country insisting that territory distant from its shores was entrusted to it by ancestors, taking the political position that its claims are indisputable.” He went on to say, “The United States takes the position that territorial claims should be based on geography.”


 The U.S. government maintains neutrality on territorial issues and does not side with any one party. Therefore, while the U.S. calls for the cancellation of reclamation work in the South China Sea, it has only argued on the nine-dash line that “China should present evidence based on international law” (State Department).


 However, what Russel said on that day was in line with the argument made by the Philippines when it filed a lawsuit at the Hague Court of Arbitration against China in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This is likely to trigger a backlash from China.


 At the lecture by Russel, Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies in China, voiced criticism by saying, “The U.S. has been taking a neutral position on territorial issues, but now it is siding with countries other than China.” In response, Russel said, “The U.S. maintains a neutral position on territorial issues, but when it comes to compliance with international laws, the U.S. is no longer neutral and sides with the rule of law.” Citing the lawsuit at the arbitration court, the assistant secretary emphasized: “China is obligated to comply with the ruling. If the court decides that the nine-dash line runs counter to the convention, the conflict will be fundamentally solved if things go well.”

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