Ratification of UNCLOS gives U.S. more ground to challenge China on freedom of navigation rights in South China Sea
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Militarily, the Convention provides the United States with a key strategic advantage that its armed services rely upon. That advantage is “the ability to navigate freely on, over, and under the world’s oceans.”158 In an urgent situation, the United States would be free to enter the territorial sea of any party to the Convention, including China, without losing momentum by halting to obtain permission, enter into negotiations, or weigh the benefits of violating international law.159 This is increasingly important given the recent skirmish between China and the United States on the seas. In March of 2009, U.S. ships were collecting information in what China claimed was an illegal manner in its exclusive economic zone.160 Chinese and U.S. naval ships had a brief standoff that was peacefully resolved. Because “such incidents can be expected in the future,” U.S. ratification of the Convention is essential.161 If the United States were a party to the Convention, it could argue that it was freely navigating—an activity that is permissible in China’s exclusive economic zones under the Convention.