U.S. challenged 19 'excessive maritime claims' in FY-20, annual report says

By Aidan Quigley / March 10, 2021 at 1:45 PM

The United States challenged "excessive maritime claims" from 19 countries in fiscal year 2020, the most prominent -- and common -- of which is China, the Defense Department's annual freedom of navigation report states.

The report, released Wednesday, states that the U.S. is committed to challenging excessive maritime claims around the world through tangible, operational challenges.

"Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims -- or incoherent legal theories of maritime entitlement -- that are inconsistent with international law pose a threat to the legal foundation of the rules-based international order," the report states.

China itself had seven excessive maritime claims that the U.S. challenged, according to the report. These claims took place in the South China Sea and East China Sea and include straight baseline claims and restrictions on foreign aircraft flying through an Air Defense Identification Zone without the intent to enter national airspace, among other claims.

Adm. Phil Davidson, chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said during a Wednesday House Armed Services Committee hearing that China is trying to "impose Chinese national law on the international regime that provides for the freedom of navigation and the freedom of the seas."

"Their continued militarization is to deter not only the United States, but truly cow all of our allies and partners in the region and certainly the South China Sea claimants, from their absolute rights to operate, and those rights they enjoy for economic resource extraction, freedom of the seas, freedom of the airways, et cetera," he said.

Other claimants that the U.S. challenged in FY-20 are: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Haiti, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Korea, Samoa, Taiwan, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela and Yemen.

In FY-19, the U.S. challenged claims from 22 claimants.