Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on the decision by an international tribunal in The Hague regarding China’s claims in the South China Sea:
“I’m pleased that the tribunal has ruled in favor of the Philippines’ claims that China has no historical title to the entire South China Sea and that China's actions have breached the Philippines' rights. It is disappointing that China refused to even attempt to participate in the proceedings and that China has already rejected this decision.
“The South China Sea is an essential gateway for global commerce. Each year trillions of dollars of trade passes through these waters, including many shipments coming to and from the United States. China cannot and will not be allowed to obstruct the free flow of commerce through this vital region. We cannot allow China to continue to pursue illegitimate claims and to militarize an area that is essential to global security.
“I have always endorsed the notion that Beijing’s claims regarding the ‘nine-dash’ line are illegitimate and this ruling should once and for all make clear that this is the case. A neutral arbiter has rejected China’s claim and now Beijing faces a choice: accept the tribunal’s ruling or through its response, rally the entire region against its provocative actions. I hope that Beijing will choose to see this decision as a way to deescalate the situation. If China chooses to ignore the tribunal’s ruling, the United States must not allow Beijing to dictate the circumstances of transit through the South China Sea.
“I call on the Obama Administration to reinforce our treaty alliances in the region, continue and expand freedom of navigation operations and overflights, reconsider our traditional policy of not taking a position on individual claims, and respond to Chinese provocations with commensurate actions that impose costs on any attempts to undermine security in the region.”