Thursday, February 6, 2014

US: China's claims lack basis in international law

US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel says China's unilateral establishment of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea only serves to heighten tension in the region.

Russel spoke before a House of Representatives subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Wednesday.

He described China's move as a serious step in the wrong direction, and said the United States neither recognizes nor accepts it.

The declared air zone covers the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory in terms of history and under international law.

Russel submitted written testimony in which he said the Senkakus are under the administration of Japan, and that unilateral attempts to change the status quo run counter to international law.

Russel's remarks are meant to serve as a warning to China, which claims most of the South China Sea and could set up an air defense identification zone there as well, despite ongoing territorial disputes with several Southeast Asian nations.

As for China's claims of jurisdiction over nearly all of the South China Sea, Russel said any claims of maritime rights not based on claimed land features would be inconsistent with international law.