Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and Rep. Eliot Engel (NY-16), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement after introducing a bill to strengthen international cooperation and support freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
Congressman Matt Salmon: "Following this week's landmark arbitral tribunal decision on the maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea, China has already signaled its refusal to comply with the ruling, scorning international law and rejecting binding and peaceful dispute resolution. It is paramount, now more than ever, that we work to strengthen the security capabilities of our allies and partners in the South China Sea region. By increasing their capacity to monitor their own maritime territories, by improving their military and law enforcement prowess, and by building the bonds between our militaries, the maritime nations of Southeast Asia, we will be in a better position to negotiate a peaceful resolution to one of the most dangerous security situations of our times. This legislation builds upon our solid relationships with allies and partners in the region to shore up our response to China's continued belligerence."
Congressman Eliot Engel: "The United States, as a Pacific power, has an enduring interest in the stability of the Asia-Pacific region. This week's landmark ruling by an international Arbitral Tribunal in the case of The Philippines v. The People's Republic of China provides an important opportunity to decide what kind of Asia-Pacific region we will live in: will it be a region that respects the rule of law to enhance the security of all nations? Will it be a region committed to resolving disputes diplomatically and through peaceful means? Will it be a place where all countries have confidence in their freedom to legal passage through waterways and airspace without fear of harassment or intimidation? The United States remains committed to that vision. This legislation lays out key tenants of U.S. maritime security policy in the region, and if enacted, will increase the maritime law enforcement and security capabilities of our allies and partners, especially those bordering the South China Sea. It is important to note that our legislation poses no threat to any particular country in the region. Rather, we seek to promote an enduring legal framework whereby all countries bordering the South China Sea can live in peace and security while sharing in the natural resources of this diverse region."