United States on Monday rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, a move that Beijing criticized as inciting tensions in the region and which highlighted an increasingly testy relationship.
China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other Southeast Asian coastal states, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
“We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” said Pompeo, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration.
The United States has long opposed China’s expansive territorial claims on the South China Sea, sending warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. Monday’s comments reflect a harsher tone.
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” Pompeo said.
The Chinese embassy in the United States said in a statement dated Tuesday that Washington’s accusation is “completely unjustified.”