US, Australia concerned over China's expansive maritime claims

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton

Washington [US], September 17 (ANI): The US and Australia expressed concerns regarding China's expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea and called on Beijing to implement relevant domestic legislation, including the Maritime Traffic Safety Law, in a manner consistent with UNCLOS.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosted Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton on September 16 in Washington for the 31st Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN 2021).

The two countries called on China to grant urgent, meaningful, and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent international observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to a joint statement following the talks.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.

The Secretaries and Ministers upheld that adherence to international law are essential for regional and international stability and prosperity.

"They underlined the importance of countries' ability to exercise their maritime rights and freedoms in the South China Sea, consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms," the statement read.

"The Secretaries and Ministers conveyed ongoing concern regarding the People's Republic of China's (PRC) expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea that are without legal basis, called on the PRC to implement relevant domestic legislation, including the Maritime Traffic Safety Law, in a manner consistent with UNCLOS, and reiterated that the 2016 Arbitral Award is final and legally binding on the parties," the statement added.

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. (ANI)

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