US aims to ‘chal­lenge new mar­itime or­der’

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing zhangyunbi@chi­

(The US main­tains the Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion pro­gram to) en­sure to the max­i­mum de­gree US mil­i­tary forces’ free­dom and mo­bil­ity in tres­pass­ing in the oceans.”

The United States is at­tempt­ing to “chal­lenge the new mar­itime or­der” with its Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion Pro­gram, the For­eign Min­istry has said in re­sponse to a Pen­tagon re­port.

The 2015 Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion Re­port, re­leased on Mon­day, sum­ma­rizes the coun­try’s chal­lenges to what it calls — on the US De­fense Depart­ment web­site — “ex­ces­sive mar­itime claims” as­serted by China and other coun­tries in­clud­ing the Philip­pines, In­done­sia, Viet­nam, In­dia and Iran.

Wash­ing­ton pro­posed its Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion Pro­gram in 1979, be­fore the 1982 sign­ing of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Tues­day.

The US has not signed the UN­C­LOS.

In­stead, it main­tains this pro­gram, Hua said, to “en­sure to the max­i­mum de­gree US mil­i­tary forces’ free­dom and mo­bil­ity in tres­pass­ing in the oceans”.

The na­ture of the US pro­gram is to “press ahead with the uni­lat­eral US as­ser­tions” by force­ful or threat­en­ing means, through which Wash­ing­ton “at­tempts to dom­i­nate mar­itime or­der”, Hua said.

Zhang Jun­she, a se­nior re­searcher at the PLA Naval Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Research In­sti­tute, said that un­der the UN­C­LOS, coastal states may re­quire a war­ship to leave their ter­ri­to­rial seas im­me­di­ately if it ne­glects their laws and reg­u­la­tions on pas­sage through the sea and “dis­re­gards any re­quest for com­pli­ance”.

The US has taken such re­quests for com­pli­ance as ex­ces­sive as­ser­tions, but US war­ships’ in­cur­sions into other coun­tries ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters “run counter to in­ter­na­tional law”, Zhang said.

Un­der the name of Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion, US war­ships and air­craft have in­truded into China’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters and airspace in the South China Sea in re­cent years, caus­ing se­ri­ous fric­tion.

“Coun­tries chal­lenged by the US Free­dom of Nav­i­ga­tion Pro­gram have usu­ally failed to strongly re­act be­cause of their in­fe­rior de­fense ca­pa­bil­i­ties or their need for US aid and sup­port,” Zhang said.

Even US al­lies, like Ja­pan and the Philip­pines, suf­fered US war­ship in­tru­sions into their wa­ters and silently en­dured such bul­ly­ing, Zhang said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, called Wash­ing­ton’s claims to up­hold in­ter­na­tional law ironic and a “a slap in the face”.

The US has ul­te­rior mo­tives “when it flies the ban­ner of free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion”. It wants to con­duct close sur­veil­lance of Chi­nese is­lands and reefs.

“Such acts are provo­ca­tions that will worsen the stand­off in the re­gion,” Ruan said.

Liang Fang, a pro­fes­sor of naval stud­ies at the PLA Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity, said the US sel­dom faults the be­hav­ior of coun­tries such as the Philip­pines that oc­cupy the Chi­nese is­lands, but it closely tracks ev­ery move by China.

The US seeks al­lies to iso­late and pres­sure China in the re­gion, Liang said, but the cost will be high and “its losses may even­tu­ally out­weigh its gains”.

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