Australia calls on South China Sea claimants to stop reclamation, militarization


“We urge all parties, not just China, to refrain from further construction on those islands or reefs, and to refrain from militarization,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a speech during the Martin Luther King Day in the United States.

Turnbull clarified that Australia does not have claims in the disputed sea and does not make any judgment on the legitimacy of any of the competing claims.

The Australian leader noted that the competing claims are a threat to the peace and good order in the region.

He said that the differences among claimant states should be resolved by international law.

“That is why Australia attended, as observers, the merits hearing in The Hague last November, in the case brought by the Philippines under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Turnbull said.

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Turnbull stressed that the legitimacy of claims to the reefs and shoals in the South China Sea should be a secondary consideration on the objective of preserving international order.

“So central is the Asia Pacific to the world economy, to global stability, that the preservation of the international order and the peace that it brings has been a consistent and absolutely central objective of both the United States and Australia,” the Australian leader said.

Turnbull admitted that all nations would agree that the world has benefited from China’s rise but the disruption and instability in the region is a threat.

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