The Senate of Canada has approved a motion which condemns China for its “aggressive and expansive behavior” in the South China Sea, known in Vietnam as the East Sea.
The proposal describes China’s activities in the sea area as “escalating and hostile behavior” and urges all parties to the dispute to uphold their rights of freedom of navigation and aviation in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention of the Sea, The Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday.
This is considered a rare move for Canada, said the report, saying the measure comes at a time when Canada is seeking to open formal trade negotiations with China, currently the world’s second-biggest economy.
“By passing this motion, the Senate is stating its concern on China’s escalating and hostile behavior in the South China Sea, and urging the government of Canada to take a principled position on one of the biggest geopolitical conflicts of our time,” The Globe and Mail quoted conservative senator Thanh Hai Ngo, who sponsored the motion, as saying.
The Chinese Embassy then issued a statement to disapprove the Canadian vote and criticized Ngo for trying to “cast shadows” over bilateral relations.
In 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration stated that China has no legal basis to claim sovereignty over territory based on a vaguely defined “nine-dash-line” in the waters and the Canadian government supported the court’s decision.
China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich maritime territory and has been building on and militarizing rocky outcrops and reefs in its waters.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of it, through which about $5 trillion of trade passes each year. Vietnam is the country most openly at odds with China over the issue, Reuters said earlier this month.
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