U.S. lacks legitimacy in arguing that China needs to abide by UNCLOS that it would get if it ratified the treaty
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Currently, the State Department's suggestion to the competing claims in the South China Sea is for all of the nations to follow UNCLOS.230 It is hypocritical for the United States to encourage another country to follow UNCLOS without actually acceding to it herself.
Further, China is less likely to listen to the United States from a "position of weakness."231 According to one commentator, conversations between the United States and China regarding foreign military activity in China's EEZ currently look like this:
Chinese official: Your navy ships have no right to be in our exclusive economic zone without our permission.
American official: Yes they do. The U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, which reflects customary international law, provides other states have freedom of navigation in exclusive economic zones.
Chinese official: You are not a party to convention, so it doesn't matter what it says-you have no standing to make that argument.232
If the United States acceded to UNCLOS, then China's response could no longer be, "You are not a party to the convention." Admiral Locklear, the U.S. Navy Commander in the U.S. Pacific Command, has mentioned that in the South China Sea, where "competing claims and counter claims in the maritime domain are becoming more prominent . .. the effectiveness of the U.S. message is somewhat less credible than it might otherwise be, due to the fact that we are not a party to the convention."233 The United States would finally have standing to make the argument that China needs to follow UNCLOS.
"The Time is Now: The United States Needs to Accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to Exert Influence over the Competing Claims in the South China Sea
." Temple International and Comparative Law Journal
. Vol. 28. (2014): 1-26. [ More (7 quotes) ]