ASEAN member states and several big nations have sent notes verbales (diplomatic notes) to the UN rejecting China's maritime claims in the South China Sea. During this year, Indonesia sent diplomatic notes to the UN twice on May 26 and June 12.
"This means these countries told the UN that we do not want any violation of the UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and do not want the UNCLOS to be reduced or made vague," Director General of International Law and Agreement of the Foreign Ministry Damos Dumoli Agusman noted in a virtual press conference here on Friday.
With the diplomatic notes, he stated that China's claim to the disputed territory in the South China Sea "will remain illegitimate as long as they continue to echo their rejection. Moreover, (the diplomatic notes) are not a political argument but a legal argument justified by the international law."
The note verbale battle, or diplomatic note battle, referred to by Agusman, depicts a clash of legal arguments on an international scale among claimant and non-claimant states in the South China Sea and parties to UNCLOS.
Claimant states in the South China Sea dispute are Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and China as well as Taiwan that stated its territory is an independent state and is not part of China.
Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Laos are non-claimant states in the dispute.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
China has sent diplomatic notes to the UN six times this year to state its claim to the maritime territory in the South China Sea. The diplomatic notes were a response to Malaysia's partial submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf on December 12, 2019.
Several big countries have joined a wave of refusals to China's claim. Only recently, the Great Britain Permanent Mission to the UN sent a note verbale on Sept 16, 2020, representing his state, France, and Germany.
"France, Germany, and the Great Britain, as parties to UNCLOS 1992, would like to stress their legal position, specifically underscoring the importance of unobstructed activities in the high seas, especially the freedom of navigation and flight, and the rights to make non-dangerous trips, contained in UNCLOS, including in the South China Sea," according to one of the diplomatic notes.
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