Australia rejects Beijing’s South China Sea claims

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Australia has rejected Beijing’s territorial and maritime claims within the South China Sea in a proper declaration to the United Nations, aligning itself extra intently with the United States within the escalating row.

In a press release filed on Thursday, Australia stated there was “no legal basis” to a number of disputed Chinese claims within the sea, together with these associated to the development of synthetic islands on small shoals and reefs.

“Australia rejects China’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 declaration learn.

“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.”

The declaration comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Beijing’s pursuit of territory and assets within the South China Sea as unlawful, explicitly backing the territorial claims of Southeast Asian international locations in opposition to China’s.

Beijing claims almost all the South China Sea based mostly on a so-called nine-dash line, a imprecise delineation from maps relationship again to the 1940s.

The newest escalation is available in advance of annual talks between Australia and the US, with ministers travelling to Washington, DC for the primary time since Australian borders have been closed as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

The conferences come at a “critical time” and it’s important they’re held face-to-face, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds stated in a press release on Saturday.

US relations with China have markedly deteriorated in current months, particularly over commerce disputes, the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong.

On Friday, Beijing ordered the US consulate in Chengdu to close in retaliation for the closure of its Houston mission over accusations of being a hub for mental property theft.

Payne and Reynolds additionally wrote an article in The Australian newspaper on Saturday, labelling nationwide safety laws imposed on Hong Kong final month as “sweeping and vague”.

“We face a public health crisis, economic upheaval and resurgent authoritarian regimes using coercion in a bid to gain power and influence at the expense of our freedoms and sovereignty,” they wrote.