Ernst, Colleagues Introduce Resolution on South China Sea

Senators Reaffirm Support for Tribunal Ruling

Washington, DC – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), today introduced a resolution with Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) calling for all parties to respect the arbitral tribunal ruling with regard to the South China Sea and to express U.S. policy on freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

Earlier today, an international arbitral tribunal issued a binding ruling in the case of the Republic of Philippines against the People’s Republic of China regarding the dispute over the maritime jurisdiction of the South China Sea. The tribunal, which sided with the Philippines and invalidated China’s “nine-dash line,” concluded in its decision “as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect.”

In addition to formally supporting the tribunal ruling, the resolution “urges all parties take action to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and take steps towards early conclusion of a meaningful Code of Conduct, which would provide agreed upon rules of the road to reduce tension among claimant states.” The legislation also opposes any actions in the South China Sea to change the status quo through coercion or force; calls on China to cease all reclamation and militarization activities in the South China Sea; reaffirms the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and the Philippines; urges the Secretary of State to use all diplomatic channels to communicate U.S. support for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea; and urges the Secretary of Defense to routinely enforce freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

In reaction to the release of the ruling, Senator Ernst stated, “Today’s ruling reaffirms the United States’ right for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and I join my colleagues in urging China to abide by this ruling. It is abundantly clear that China’s land reclamation and militarization in the region must continue to be opposed, and that they must not continue down the path of destabilization in such a critical region. The United States will continue to stand with the Philippines against China’s actions.”

The text of the resolution can be found here.