Save South China Sea

To National and International Organizations having a role in resolving the territorial disputes in the South China Sea: WE ARE writing to express concerns about China's increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea. In May 2009, China submitted to the United Nations a map containing the U-shaped line that represents China's claims over land and maritime territories amounting to about 80% of the sea and all the islands located within this line. This claim of sovereignty over maritime territory contradicts the criteria set by U.N. Law of the Sea (1), which China has signed and ratified. China has been attempting to consolidate these claims by various actions including but not limited to: 1) Enacting fishing bans according to its own will and sending patrol boats to capture and demand money from fishermen making a living on the sea. In addition, China attempts to prevent neighboring countries from carrying other economic activities in their own Exclusive Economic Zone; (2) 2) Building an enormous nuclear submarine base in Hainan and carrying out military exercises in the South China Sea; 3) Planning to drill oil wells in disputed waters; (3) 4) Harrassing international vessels operating in the sea as allowed by international law. (4) We oppose Beijing's attempt to turn the South China Sea into China's backyard lake. The South China Sea is first and foremost a Southeast Asian sea, in which all countries in this region share its rights and resources. Second, it is an international sea open to fair use by the entire world community. No single country can make excessive claims to this sea. The above actions by China will adversely affect the livelihood of the fishermen and the political stability of the region, and also violate the international laws governing the sea. We write this petition to call upon the world community to request China to retract its unwarranted claims to the South China Sea and cease actions that are illegal and unjust. Only in this way can we achieve a stable and prosperous Southeast Asia and a peaceful world. Signature of petitioner Notes (1) "Law of the Sea" http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm. UNCLOS gives each country the right to maximum EEZ of 200 nautical miles from the baseline and may be extended to an outer limit of 350 nautical miles. Wherever the claims overlap, the countries involved must work peacefully to resolve their claims. However, China has denied Southeast Asian countries their share of the sea by passing a Law on the the Exclusive Economic Zone and Contintental Shelf in 1998 which effectively claimed jurisdictional authority over nearly all of the South China Sea based on so called historical reasons. Under this law, foreign vessels must have Beijing's permission before undertaking any kind of operations in its claimed EEZ (Dutton and Garofano, Far Eastern Economic Review, April 3, 2009). (2) China has unilaterally imposed a fishing ban in parts of the South China Sea every year for the past 11 years. In 2009, this ban period was from May 16 to August 1, 2009, during which time, Vietnamese fishermen can make the majority of their annual income. In the latest fishing ban, thousands of Vietnamese fishermen were been forced to dock their boats. Others venturing into the sea were driven out. In one instance, China arrested 37 Vietnamese fishermen and demanded 31,000 USD while these fishermen can scarcely make 5 USD per day. Conversely, in June 2009, Indonesia was forced to arrest 8 Chinese fishing vessels (75 fishermen) for fishing in this country's EEZ (at 5*N and 110*E). Wang Hanling, a Chinese maritime affairs expert claimed that these Chinese fishermen were merely working in traditional Chinese fishing area; It is unreasonable and unacceptable that Indonesia arrested Chinese fishermen within the maritime area historically under China's administration; he saidâ (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-06/26/content_8324509.htm). China blocked oil exploration between Vietnam and BP in 2007 and Vietnam and ExxonMobile in 2008 threatening serious consequences if they did not withdraw from these contracts. (3) China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. is aiming to drill its first deep-water well next year in the South China Sea, ending a moratorium on exploration in waters near areas disputed by Vietnam. Sinopec, a deep-water offshore drilling for the company, has a license to explore more than 8,000 square kilometers in the basin near the Paracel Islands, including some blocks in territorial waters claimed by Vietnam ("China to drill oil wells near Vietnam" The Wallstreet Journal, Jun 17, 2009) (4) Five Chinese ships harassed an American surveillance vessel in international waters, an actions the Pentagon described as illegal, unprofessional and dangerous ("China Harassed U.S. Ship, Pentagon Says" New York Times, March 9, 2009). While UNCLOS gives countries the right to govern economic activities in their EEZ, China expands this to include even non-economic activities, such as peaceful intelligence gathering which is fully permissible under present international law. The South China Sea is one of the busiest international shipping lanes in the world. According to globalsecurity.org. More than half of the world's annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok, with the majority continuing on into the South China Sea. Tanker traffic through the Strait of Malacca leading into the South China Sea is more than three times greater than Suez Canal traffic, and well over five times more than the Panama Canal. Virtually all shipping that passes through the Malacca and Sunda Straits must pass near the Spratly Islands; (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/spratly-ship.htm). Also, 80% of Japan energy and the majority of international trade to Asia are transported through the Malacca Strait and South China Sea. Yet, all of these activities would be at the mercy of Chinese navy if Beijing's claim to South China Sea remains unchallenged.

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