US warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if China takes action to challenge new rules

Reuters January 22, 2019 07:25:56 The United States and China have reached a “catastrophe” if Beijing does not take steps to enforce a new global maritime rules system, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

The US is warning that China could be “unwilling to abide by the new rules” and could cause “cataclysmic consequences” if it does not do so.

The U.N. has imposed new maritime rules that China and the United States say will give a “clear and meaningful basis” for maritime disputes in the South China Sea and other contested waters.

However, China has said that the rules do not give China the right to intervene in the dispute.

On Thursday, the State Department issued a warning to Chinese officials, warning that if Beijing continues to defy the rules, the United Nations could impose new maritime sanctions.

“The United States strongly urges China to exercise restraint and avoid taking actions that could damage its standing with the international community and threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries and entities located in the disputed maritime areas,” the State department said in a statement.

It said the United State was not aware of any Chinese official who had made any comments about the rules or how they could be enforced.

A senior US official said the Trump administration is aware of the warning.

China has been seeking to develop a new maritime dispute resolution system.

Earlier this month, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia signed an agreement to allow Vietnam to use air patrols and aircraft to patrol the South Chinese Sea, which China claims as its own.

The Philippines has said it would not use air and naval forces in the area.

China has also said it is considering launching patrols in the contested waters, which it claims as part of its exclusive economic zone.

China’s foreign ministry said last month that it would “respond to any hostile actions by the Philippines or any other claimant to the maritime claims of China”.

A Philippine military spokesman told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday that the military would not launch patrols in waters it controls.

“We are not going to go out in our air force to take a look at what the other side is doing,” the spokesman said.

“But we will not go out and attack or attack any vessels.

We will not launch any patrols at all.”

The US State Department warned on Thursday not to assume that China would adhere to the new maritime disputes rules because the government is “unable to determine what will be the appropriate response to each case.”

“We have made clear that the United Sates goal in this area is not to make China pay a price for violating the new marine dispute rules, but rather to prevent a catastrophic consequence if Beijing fails to implement the new disputes rules,” the department said.

“The new rules are not binding on China and could be modified or eliminated if China does not comply with them,” it added.