Media Contact 202-226-8467

Washington, D.C.- Congressmen Michael McCaul and Eliot Engel, Republican Leader and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement on the administration’s decision to clarify the United States’ position on the South China Sea, making it clear that China’s territorial claims are unlawful:

“We fully support the administration’s decision to clarify the United States’ position that China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea are unlawful. China has failed to abide by the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s legally binding ruling from 2016, or provide any credible legal justification for its claims. Instead, it has resorted to coercion of its neighbors, an aggressive campaign of reclamation and militarization of features, and continued activities in the exclusive economic zones of other countries. This has only accelerated over the last several months as the world focused on COVID-19. Continued ambiguity with respect to our policy on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea no longer serves the shared interests of the Indo-Pacific region, given China’s aggressive actions and refusal to abide by international law.

“The United States is committed to upholding international law; to flying, sailing, and operating where international law allows; and to supporting our regional partners and regional institutions who seek peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes in the South China Sea. We hope this decision will lead to further efforts by the United States, our partners, and all members of the international community to better align support for international law with respect to the South China Sea.”