Armed Forces News

South China Sea - Feb 2021: Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Brandon Kincheloe, from Chesterton, Ind., monitors the movement of aircraft in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), part of a strike group on deployment to the 7th Fleet area of operations, which operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific Region. (Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class Erik Melgar)

China leads a list of 19 nations that have implemented what the U.S. deems as claims that excessively impede maritime operations. The U.S. concerns are articulated in the Pentagon’s Freedom of Navigation Report for 2020, released this week.

“As a nation with both a vast coastline and a significant maritime presence, the United States is committed to preserving tis legal balance as an essential part of the stable, rules-based international order,” the white paper stated. “Some countries do not share this commitment.”

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The report cited the listed countries for implementing maritime claims that run counter to international law. The complaints levied against China largely focus on policies affecting maritime operations in the South and East China seas, which include restrictions on ocean-going traffic and aviation.

Iran was cited for restrictions it placed on passage through the Strait of Hormuz, and bans on foreign military operations in what the country considers its exclusive economic zone.

Venezuela was cited for attempting to enforce a security zone that extends beyond its territorial waters.

Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Samoa, Yemen and Uruguay each were mentioned for their rules of military and commercial maritime operations that run counter to established treaties and agreements. Haiti is mentioned for “unpublished but inferred” claims that limit operations in the Gulf of Gonave.

Japan, the Republic of Korea, Samoa and Taiwan –traditional U.S. allies – also are mentioned for limits.

The report invited other like-minded nations to step forward and address their concerns about actions that adversely affect maritime commerce and security operations.

“The Department of Defense will continue supporting a growing chorus of nations upholding international law and rules-based order that has proven essential to global security and the stability and prosperity of all nations.”

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