China must abide by same rules, says US VP Biden
SYDNEY—China must abide by the same international rules as everyone else, US Vice President Joe Biden warned after a UN-backed tribunal ruled against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.
The United States has no claims of its own within the vast area, but insists that all shipping has a right to pass through seas it regards as international waters.
It has previously deployed aircraft carriers and a host of other vessels to assert freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, through which a third of the global oil trade passes.
“We expect China to play by the same rules as everyone else,” Biden told the Sydney Morning Herald in comments published on Saturday, referring to the international rules-based system that governs claims to maritime territory.
He added that “we’re urging both China and the Philippines to abide by the ruling.”
Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital South China Sea, despite rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbors, most notably Manila, a US ally that took the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
China’s claims, which include waters approaching neighboring countries, are based on a vaguely defined “nine-dash line” found on a 1940s Chinese map.
No historic rights
The tribunal ruled on Tuesday that China had no historic rights to resources within the area, a decision Beijing angrily rejected.
Biden, who arrives in Australia later Saturday for a visit in which he is expected to tackle Washington’s military alliance with Canberra, said it was vital that freedom of navigation was maintained.
He said the United States was working “with Australia and countries throughout the region, to insist that the liberal international order be maintained as it relates to sustaining the free flow of commerce keeping sea-lanes open and the skies free for navigation.”
A US state department spokesperson earlier in the week described the tribunal’s ruling as “final and legally binding,” while Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Beijing risked reputational harm if it ignored the decision. TVJ
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