On Friday, Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell hit back to India’s Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong for objecting to his comments on China’s “destabilizing” interventions in the South China Sea, saying that Beijing should refrain from acts that could unilaterally shift the status quo in the region.
Mr. O’Farrell said on Thursday that Australia remains highly concerned about Chinese actions in the South China Sea that “stabilize and that cause escalation.” One important shipping route is also the resource-rich South China Sea.
In a tweet, Mr. Weidong objected to the comments made by the Australian diplomat and said that they had been made “regardless of reality.”
In his strong reply, Mr O’Farrell reminded the Chinese envoy of the 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejecting China’s claim to jurisdiction over the South China Sea area.
“Merci @China Amb India. I should expect that you will obey the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award, which is definitive and binding under international law, and also generally refrain from acts that change the status quo unilaterally, “tweeted the Australian High Commissioner.
The international tribunal, established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in its judgment claimed that China had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by carrying out certain activities in the South China Sea.
The Philippines had approached the court alleging that China’s territorial claims are unconstitutional in the region.
China asserts jurisdiction over the whole of the South China Sea, a major hydrocarbon outlet. Nevertheless, there are conflicting arguments from many countries in the region including Vietnam, the Philippines , Taiwan and Brunei.
“It denies China’s claim to historic rights and internal waters, its claim to some maritime zones and its assertion that its claims to sovereignty by the South China Sea are generally acknowledged internationally,” the High Commissioner said.
Over the last few weeks, when the whole world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, China has increased its military assertiveness over South China Sea.
The U.S. sent naval ships to the disputed islands following Chinese actions, and called Beijing ‘s claim over the area unconstitutional.
“The world isn’t going to let Beijing view the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our allies and partners in Southeast Asia in defending their sovereign rights to offshore energy, “U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo reported on 14 July.