NEW DELHI: Australia has become the first country outside the South China Sea region to approach the United Nations over China’s territorial claims and development of artificial islands in the area – a gateway for global trade including India.
In its petition to the UN, Australia said it rejected China’s “historical claims” in the South China Sea region because they violate international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This comes after the US lambasted Chinese claims in the region, which is the world’s busiest shipping route.
India has maintained over the years that trade through the South China Sea region should not be impeded under any circumstance and has advocated upholding the convention on the Law of the Sea.
Australia has emerged as one of the sharpest critics of China since the coronavirus outbreak, notwithstanding strong, bilateral trade ties. It called for a global investigation into the origins of coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.
Australia’s declaration to the UN, submitted on Thursday, reads: “Australia rejects China’s claim to ‘historic rights’ or ‘maritime rights and interests’ as established in the ‘long course of historical practice’ in the South China Sea.”