Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel’s Testimony Before Congress

Asst. Sec. of State Danny Russel testified on February 5 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.  He was the sole witness for the hearing.  The hearing was entitled “America’s Future in Asia: From Rebalancing to Managing Sovereignty Disputes.”  His prepared statement was entitled “Maritime Disputes in East Asia.”

“There is a growing concern that this pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects an incremental effort by China to assert control over the area contained in the so-called “nine-dash line,” despite the objections of its neighbors and despite the lack of any explanation or apparent basis under international law regarding the scope of the claim itself. China’s lack of clarity with regard to its South China Sea claims has created uncertainty, insecurity and instability in the region. It limits the prospect for achieving a mutually agreeable resolution or equitable joint development arrangements among the claimants. I want to reinforce the point that under international law, maritime claims in the South China Sea must be derived from land features. Any use of the “nine dash line” by China to claim maritime rights not based on claimed land features would be inconsistent with international law. The international community would welcome China to clarify or adjust its nine-dash line claim to bring it in accordance with the international law of the sea.”

1:14:57 to 1:23:53 — A/S Russel’s opening remarks
1:34:22 — Q&A about SCS Code of Conduct
1:39:20 — A/S Russel’s comments: “The ambiguity of China’s claim and the behavior of Chinese assets in asserting these claims is a destabilizing factor. We have made that point directly to the Chinese.”
1:42:42 — A/S Russel’s comments: “We want, and the region needs, a China that embraces the rule of law. We need a China that is a net contributor to the security and stability of the region.”
1:52:15 — A/S Russel’s comments: “Fundamentally, the rules of the South China Sea and the East China Sea apply in the Indian Ocean and apply globally. The absolute requirement — and a requirement that is incumbent on China to embrace — to respect rules of the road, to accept international law applies equally to big countries and small countries, to strong and weak….And the efforts by the United States, including in the multlilateral forums, to champion these principles have a significant impact…..”
2:05:20 — Q&A about U.S. strategy or tripwires for China
2:17:04 — Q&A about RIMPAC 2014 and PLA’s participation
2:20:05 — Q&A about mechanisms to manage or prevent crises