A bipartisan maritime security resolution reaffirming support of the U.S. government for freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime disputes passed the U.S. Senate late yesterday.
Senate Resolution 412 was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Risch (R-ID), and John McCain (R-AZ) -- all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"The United States is an Asia-Pacific nation and we have an abiding national security interest in the maintenance of regional stability, as recent events have demonstrated," said Senator Menendez. "We maintain a vested interest in the security of our allies and partners, in the freedom of navigation, free and unimpeded commerce, respect for international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. This resolution reaffirms those guiding principles that are critical in demonstrating our foreign policy values and objectives."
"Freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region is what makes trade and peace possible, and this resolution reinforces the Senate's commitment to this goal," said Senator Rubio. "As countries like China attempt to disrupt the region by violating international agreements and making illegitimate territorial claims, it's a key time for the U.S. government to remind our allies, partners in the region and the entire world that America is fully committed to continued peace and prosperity in Asia."
"The United States has a profound interest in the safety and security of our maritime trading routes," said Senator Cardin, Chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee. "During my visit earlier this year to Vietnam and Singapore, it was clear that the region faces growing threats to maritime security and these threats present a mounting concern for our partners and allies. We will work to ensure unimpeded access to the maritime commons of the Asia-Pacific and will take an active and strong stand against any coercion, intimidation, or use of force."
"With the passage of this resolution, the Senate affirms America's enduring commitment to the core principles of freedom of navigation and other international maritime law," said Senator McCain. "The Senate, and the American people, stand with our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region as they seek to resolve territorial and maritime disputes peacefully, and we will continue to criticize China's unilateral efforts to change the status quo through force and coercion."
In recent years, the East and South China Seas -- and the airspace above -- have been the setting for a series of alarming developments. These maritime issues have created real tension and the potential for conflict in the region that could easily spill over into a broader regional conflict.
The United States has a vital interest in working with all nations in the region in developing, institutionalizing, and sustaining a rules-based order for the Asia-Pacific. That starts with a firm commitment to addressing these issues consistent with international law and norms of behavior, putting in place effective mechanisms to manage the maritime disputes, and supporting and encouraging the peaceful resolution of disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domain.