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South chiina sea

In 2014, China began massive dredging operations to build artificial islands in the South China Sea which they claim as their territory. China said these islands were built for peaceful purposes and construction soon totaled more than 3,000 acres. President Xi assured the world that he would not place military fortifications on these islands but soon afterward began building airstrips and installing anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on all seven of the Spratly Islands. China says these islands, 1,269 miles from its mainland, are part of China it now claims nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea as their own. However, competing claims have been made by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In 2016, a United Nations arbitration case ruled against China’s claims, saying entitlements in the sea have to be within areas measured from mainland China, and that these islands are located in international waters. China’s response at the time was to dismiss the ruling as “nothing more than a piece of waste paper.” The tribunal ruled that none of the Spratly Islands, nor an isolated reef known as Scarborough Shoal, are capable of supporting human habitation in their natural state so none of these islands are entitled to an exclusive economic zone around them. The UN ruled that the vast majority of the resources in the southern part of the South China Sea belong to the coastal states: the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam. Opponents of China’s ‘land grab' say militarizing this area endangers the $3.4 trillion in trade which passes through the South China Sea each year. Our military has been conducting freedom of navigation exercises – sailing ships and flying aircraft through this region – to demonstrate that the SCS is in international waters and not subject to Communist China control.

Pending Legislation: S.1657 - South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act of 2021
Sponsor: Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)
Status: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Chair: Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ)

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Poll Opening Date
November 22, 2021
Poll Closing Date
November 28, 2021

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