During a hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) exceeded what was permitted by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the Inquirer reported.
In a map produced by Democrat Senatorat the hearing, it showed that China’s claims extended far beyond its 320-kilometer (200-nautical-mile) exclusive economic zone provided for in Unclos and amounted to a “significant territorial grab that comes very close to the land borders of countries in the region.”
Clinton and top military leaders warned that Washington’s failure to ratify Unclos weakened its support for US allies in the disputed waterway and put the US military at increasing risk of confrontation with China.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said ‘Washington’s ratification of Unclos would strengthen US security interests as it would provide clarity in definition of navigational rights and maritime zones—at a time of growing competition for resources.’
Clinton told the senate committee “as a nonparty, we cede the legal high ground to China. We put ourselves on the defensive. We are not as strong an advocate for our friends and allies in the region as I would like us to be, and I don’t think that’s any place for the world’s preeminent maritime power to find ourselves.”