Study on People’s Republic of China’s South China Sea Maritime Claims

Today, the Department of State released a Limits in the Seas study on the PRC’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Department’s Limits in the Seas studies are a longstanding legal and technical series that examine national maritime claims and boundaries and assess their consistency with international law. This most recent study, the 150th in the Limits in the Seas series, concludes that the PRC asserts unlawful maritime claims in most of the South China Sea, including an unlawful historic rights claim.

This study builds on the Department’s 2014 analysis of the PRC’s ambiguous “dashed-line” claim in the South China Sea. Since 2014, the PRC has continued to assert claims to a wide swath of the South China Sea as well as to what the PRC has termed “internal waters” and “outlying archipelagos,” all of which are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

With the release of this latest study, the United States calls again on the PRC to conform its maritime claims to international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, to comply with the decision of the arbitral tribunal in its award of July 12, 2016, in The South China Sea Arbitration, and to cease its unlawful and coercive activities in the South China Sea.

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