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France-UK-Germany submit joint note in UN against China’s South China Sea claims

France UK Germany submit joint note in UN against Chinas South China Sea claimsNew Delhi: France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have submitted a joint Note Verbale to the United Nations challenging the legality of China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea in what can be viewed as a setback for Beijing’s aggression.

In their submission to the UN on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 (Thursday in Manila), the three powerful European countries highlighted, among others, that claims about Beijing’s exercise of “historic rights” over the South China Sea waters do not comply with international law and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provisions, citing, in particular, the arbitral award on the petition filed by the Philippines against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

On July 12, 2016, the UN-backed Arbitral Tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippine petition invalidating China’s outrageous “nine-dash line” claim.

France, the UK and Germany are all parties to UNCLOS.

The three European countries underlined the importance of “unhampered exercise of the freedom of the high seas, in particular the freedom of navigation and overflight, and of the right of innocent passage enshrined in UNCLOS, including in the South China Sea.”

They also emphasized the specific and exhaustive conditions outlined in the Convention for the application of the regime of islands to naturally formed land features arguing that “land building activities or other forms of artificial transformation cannot change the classification of a feature under UNCLOS.”

China has built several artificial islands in the contested waters of the South China Sea, including landing strips and military installations.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom hold that all maritime claims in the South China Sea should be made and peacefully resolved in accordance with the principles and rules of UNCLOS and the means and procedures for the settlement of disputes provided for in the Convention,” they stated.

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