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US senators draft sanctions bill targeting Chinese aggression in South China Sea

By Viet Anh   October 19, 2021 | 09:38 pm PT
The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations agreed on Tuesday to impose sanctions on China for its aggressive activities in the South China and East China Seas.

The bipartisan South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act will impose sanctions against Chinese individuals and entities that participate in Beijing’s attempts to "aggressively assert its expansive maritime and territorial claims" in the two seas, according to rubio.senate.gov, the website of Senator Marco Rubio.

The South China Sea is known as the East Sea in Vietnam.

Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and an original co-sponsor of the legislation along with Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department Management. It was later co-sponsored by 14 senators.

They first introduced it in Senate in May 2019, and re-submitted it in May this year.

A China Coast Guard vessel patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017. Photo by Reuters.

A China Coast Guard vessel patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017. Photo by Reuters

Rubio and Cardin on Tuesday hailed the committee’s move.

"The committee’s passage of my bipartisan bill is an important first step, and I urge the full Senate to swiftly pass this legislation," Rubio said.

He claimed that China's actions are threats to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Therefore, Washington needs additional tools to confront Beijing as it continues its effort to "unlawfully assert control over maritime territory" in the South and East China Seas, he said.

Cardin said "aggressive behavior" from China in both the South and East China Seas cannot go unchecked. The bill sends a strong bipartisan message that the U.S. would defend the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation, safeguard the sovereignty of allies, and promote the peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes consistent with international law.

If the U.S's Congress passes the bill, President Joe Biden will impose property-blocking and visa-denial sanctions on Chinese persons and entities that contribute to development projects in parts of the South China Sea contested by a member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

It will prohibit U.S. entities from investing in or insuring projects involving sanctioned entities.

The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the U.S., with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing in the resource-rich waters.

Vietnam has called for all parties to maintain peace in the South China Sea. It has repeatedly affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.

 
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