U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
STATEMENT BY MORGAN ORTAGUS, SPOKESPERSON
April 6, 2020
We are seriously concerned by reports of the PRC’s sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
This incident is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Beijing has also announced new “research stations” on military bases it built on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef, and landed special military aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef. The PRC has also continued to deploy maritime militia around the Spratly Islands. China’s Nine-Dashed Line was deemed an unlawful maritime claim by an arbitral tribunal convened under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention in July 2016, a position shared by the U.S. Government.
We call on the PRC to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic, and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea.