by WorldTribune Staff, August 30, 2020
Communist China, which has a long track record of violating laws of the sea, now has a seat on a tribunal which settles international disputes on the sea.
Duan Jielong was selected by the United Nations to serve a nine-year term as a judge to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), an independent judicial body based in Hamburg, Germany which settles disputes under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Duan’s selection was made over the objection of the United States.
David Stilwell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said: “Electing a PRC [People’s Republic of China] official to this body is like hiring an arsonist to help run the fire department.”
Related: Trump administration forcefully rejects China’s claims to South China Sea, July 14, 2020
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea as its territory, through which $5 trillion worth of goods are transported annually. Beijing has ongoing disputes with the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. It has also engaged Japan in the East China sea.
China has created around 3,200 acres of new land in the Spratly Islands since 2013. It has militarized the Paracel Islands, and created 27 outposts in the Woody Islands.
In 20016, the permanent court of arbitration in the Hague found China guilty of violating the sovereign rights of the Philippines in the South China Sea. China declared the decision as illegal, null and void.
The communist nation often boycotts court hearings on maritime disputes and does not accept international verdicts.
At a July 30 Senate hearing, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requested funding for a special team at the State Department that would push back on China’s growing domination of UN agencies and international organizations.
“It’s not just the leaders that matter at these UN organizations. They have big bureaucracies underneath them. And we are sadly inadequately represented at every level inside of these international bodies, and it matters,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Beijing is seeking to displace America’s leadership in the UN, said Kristine Lee, an Associate Fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for a New American Security. “And it’s doing this first and foremost through its personnel.”
“It’s mapped out strategically important Specialized Agency elections and has done the diplomatic legwork to get Chinese officials elected to these positions,” Lee said. “This is problematic because the [Chinese Communist Party] expects its nationals to run counter to the principle of neutrality enshrined in the UN Charter.”
“Chinese officials serving in senior posts at the UN serve the narrow interests of and report back to the CCP, even as UN employees are expected to be impartial and independent,” Lee said.