Amid China’s military expansion in Indo-Pacific, US expresses concerns over violation of maritime laws

Washington [US]: Amid China’s military expansion in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday expressed concerns over violation of maritime principles and said that these expansions are inconsistent with international law.
The US official expressed concerns regarding actions of China that intimidated other states while unlawfully expanding its maritime resources. Participating in the high-level open debate ‘Enhancing Maritime Security – A Case for International Cooperation’ of the UN Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through videoconference, Blinken said that maritime security is in serious danger especially in the South China Sea.
He said that “the freedom of navigation and overflight and the unimpeded flow of lawful maritime commerce is critical to the security and prosperity of all nations and to global stability.”
“Let me speak about some of the critical areas where we see maritime rules and principles under threat, we have seen dangerous encounters between vessels at the South China Sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims,” the US Secretary of State said.
Blinken also thanked India for its leadership and bringing all the countries together to recommit and strengthen the maritime rules and principles.
The meeting discussed ways to effectively counter maritime crime and insecurity and strengthening coordination in the maritime domain.
PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to preside over a UN Security Council open debate. The meeting was attended by several heads of state and government of member states of the UNSC, and high-level briefers from the UN System and key regional organizations.
The UN Security Council has discussed and passed resolutions on different aspects of maritime security and maritime crime. However, this was the first time that maritime security was discussed in a holistic manner as an exclusive agenda item in such a high-level open debate.
Blinken addressed the topic of military expansion in the South China Sea as major European countries are sending naval firepower to the Indo-Pacific in a show of support for Washington’s efforts to curb Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea.
The Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
While Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.
China has also announced that it will hold a five-day military exercise from Friday in the South China Sea as tensions escalate in the region.
The exercise, which will include setting up a vast navigation restriction zone, comes as the US and other countries in the region are building pressure on Beijing by holding large-scale military drills.

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