US tells China: Cease provocative behavior in South China Sea

The United States urged China on Tuesday to abide by its obligations under the international law that rejects the latter's maritime claims over the South China Sea, particularly those that are determined part of the Philippines’ expanded economic zone.

The US also asked China to "cease its provocative behavior" as it reaffirmed its commitment that an "armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty."

State Secretary Antony Blinken made the statement on the Sixth Anniversary of the Philippines-China South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Ruling


"We will continue to work with allies and partners, as well as regional institutions like ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nation), to protect and preserve the rules-based order," Blinken said.

Noting a speech he delivered on May 26, the state secretary reiterated that the US and its Indo-Pacific allies and partners "are committed to preserving a system where goods, ideas, and people flow freely across land, sky, cyberspace, and the open seas."

"This system benefits all countries, big and small," he stressed.

According to Blinken, preserving "a free and open South China Sea governed by international law," as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is part of this shared vision.

"Six years ago, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention delivered a unanimous decision, which is final and binding on the Philippines and the PRC (People's Republic of China)," he said.

Blinken cited the ruling that "firmly rejected the PRC's expansive South China Sea maritime claims as having no basis in international law." 

He also said that the Tribunal ruled "that the PRC has no lawful claim to the areas determined by the Arbitral Tribunal to be part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf."

Blinken said further that a study conducted by the State Department examining the coastal maritime claims of China over the South China Sea "concluded that these rearticulated maritime claims remain plainly inconsistent with international law."