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Rubio, Cardin Introduce Bill Targeting Chinese Aggression in South China Sea

Mar 15, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act, which would sanction Chinese individuals and entities that participate in Beijing’s illegitimate activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“China’s illegitimate actions in the South China Sea threaten the region’s security and American commerce,” said Rubio, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its East Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee. “These ongoing, flagrant violations of international norms cannot be allowed to go unchecked, and the sanctions called for in this legislation would put Beijing on notice that the United States means business and intends to hold violators accountable.”

“In recent years we have seen an increasingly provocative China in the maritime domains, coercing and intimidating neighbors in both the East China Sea and South China Sea, attempting to use the threat of military force to address territorial and regional disputes, and undertaking an aggressive island-building and militarization campaign which threatens regional stability,” said Cardin, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “In the face of these actions the United States must be crystal-clear with regards to our long-standing national interests in the free-flow of commerce, freedom of navigation, and in the peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes consistent with international law, and that we will safeguard our interests and those of our allies and partners and uphold a rules-based order for the Asia-Pacific region. This legislation provides significant new tools and options for our policy in the region and I’m pleased to join Senator Rubio in this effort.”

Today, Reuters reported that “China has started fresh construction work in the disputed South China Sea, new satellite images show, a sign that Beijing is continuing to strengthen its military reach across the vital trade waterway.”

The South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act would:

  • Require the president to impose sanctions and prohibit visas for Chinese individuals and entities who contribute to construction or development projects, and those who threaten the peace, security or stability of the South China Sea (SCS) or East China Sea (ECS);
  • Impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities if China takes certain actions in the SCS or ECS, including declaring an air defense identification zone or increasing activities at Scarborough Shoal;
  • Mandate a report on individuals and entities involved in sanctionable activities, including some employees of certain Chinese companies;
  • Prohibit the publication of documents portraying the SCS or the ECS as part of China, investments in the SCS or the ECS, and the recognition of the annexation of the SCS or the ECS; and
  • Restrict foreign assistance to countries that recognize China’s sovereignty in the SCS or the ECS.

Rubio, currently the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), introduced a version of the bill in December.