BEIJING — As expectations grow that the U.S. Navy will directly challenge Beijing's South China Sea claims, China is engaging in some serious image-building for its own military by hosting two international security forums this week.
The events kick off Friday with an informal meeting of defense ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations known as ASEAN — four of which exercise claims to seas and islands in the South China Sea that clash with Beijing's own. It is the first time China has hosted such a meeting.
That will be followed by the Xiangshan Forum, at which analysts, military leaders and others from around the globe will grapple with Asian-Pacific security, maritime issues and anti-terrorism.
May 23, 2012SECRETARY CLINTON:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar. After both of your opening comments, I think you’ve made the case both eloquently and persuasively for anyone who is willing to look at the facts. I am well aware that this treaty does have determined opposition, limited but nevertheless quite vociferous. And it’s unfortunate because it’s opposition based in ideology and mythology, not in facts, evidence, or the consequences of our continuing failure to accede to the treaty. So I think you’ll hear, from both Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey as well as myself, further statements and information that really reinforces the very strong points that both of you have made.We believe that it is imperative to act now. No country is better served by this convention than the United States. As the world’s foremost maritime power, we benefit from the convention’s favorable freedom of navigation provisions. As the country with the world’s second longest coastline, we benefit from its provisions on offshore natural resources. As a country with an exceptionally large area of seafloor, we benefit from the ability to extend our continental shelf, and the oil and gas rights on that shelf. As a global trading power, we benefit from the mobility that the convention accords to all commercial ships. And as the only country under this treaty that was given a permanent seat on the group that will make decisions about deep seabed mining, we will be in a unique position to promote our interests.
Now, the many benefits of this convention have attracted a wide-ranging coalition of supporters. Obviously, as we heard from both Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, Republican and Democratic presidents have supported U.S. accession; military leaders who see the benefits for our national security; American businesses, including, strongly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, seethe economic benefits. It has the support of every affected industry, including shipping, fisheries, telecommunications and energy, environmental groups as well. We have a coalition of environmental, conservation, business, industry, and security groups all in support of this convention.
And I would ask that my longer written statement along with the letters that I have received in support of the treaty be entered into the record.
I am not just talking through my hat here. That is the brigade that Hillary Clinton brought to Capitol Hill to testify about the Law of the Sea Treaty. This is an avoidable crisis. Diplomatic efforts could have diverted this had they attended to her request.
The Senate needs to ratify L.O.S.T. We can then take our seat at the table and avoid these conflicts. You may remember Marco Rubio bringing up the "synthetic islands" in the last Republican debate. The whole issue could have been avoided years ago.