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GOP senators call on China to stop claims in disputed waters

GOP senators call on China to stop claims in disputed waters
© Greg Nash

Six Republican senators are calling on China to stop its reclamation efforts in the South China Sea after an international court ruled against Beijing’s claims in the waterway.

The senators introduced a resolution Tuesday that “calls on the government of the People’s Republic of China to cease all reclamation and militarization activities in the South China Sea and end provocative actions in the East China Sea, which undermine peace and stability in the region.”

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The resolution comes from Republican Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS MORE (Ark.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSylvester Stallone reportedly joins Trump's Mar-a-Lago The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Cindy McCain to be named Biden ambassador to UN program: report MORE (Ariz.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (Fla.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska).

Earlier Tuesday, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China in a suit brought by U.S. ally the Philippines, which argued that China violated its sovereign rights with excessive claims. 

China immediately rejected the ruling, which threatens to further inflame tensions in the region.

"The award is null and void and has no binding force," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

China claims about 90 percent of the sea, through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually. In addition to the Philippines, there are rival claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The senators’ resolution would specify that the Senate supports Tuesday’s ruling and “calls on all claimants to pursue peaceful resolution of outstanding maritime claims in the South China Sea consistent with international law.”

The Senate, it would also say, “opposes any actions in the South China Sea to change the status quo by coercion, force or the threat of use of force.”

It would also urge both China and the Philippines to implement an Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreement known as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and agree to a code of conduct in the sea.

Further, it would reaffirm mutual defense treaties between the United States and the Philippines and the United States and Japan.

Finally, it would urge the secretary of State to “communicate worldwide unwavering United States support for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea” and urge the secretary of Defense to routinely conduct freedom of navigation operations in the region.

In a press release announcing the resolution, Gardner said Tuesday’s ruling confirms China’s actions are contrary to international law.

“China must abide by the decisions of the tribunal and cease all reclamation and militarization activities in the South China Sea that violate the sovereignty of its neighbors and undermine peace and stability in the region,” he said in a written statement. “I urge the administration to intensify the work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution of all outstanding claims and to routinely assert the international rights of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.”