Updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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US Senator Files Bill to Impose Sanctions on China Over Illegal Activities in South China Sea

US Solon Files Bill Imposing Sanctions on China for Illegal Activities in South China Sea

(Photo : Getty Images) Senator Mark Rubio has called for sanctions on China in a bill he filed in Congress

A US senator has filed a bill in Congress calling for the imposition of sanctions against China over its illegal activities in the disputed South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Speaking as head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday discussed the bill titled "The South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act" which, if passed into law, would punish Chinese officials, individuals, and businesses found supporting the country's activities in the disputed seas.

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"China's aggressive actions in the South China Sea are illegitimate and threaten the region's security and American commerce, with reverberations that can be felt here at home, including Florida's ports and throughout our state's shipping and cargo economy," Rubio said.

Flagrant violations

Rubio pointed out that the US would not allow China's brazen violations of international law to jeopardize the security of its allies in the region and risk its economic interests.

Rubio, who described China's activities in the South China Sea as "illegitimate," said Beijing's claims to the disputed seas and its increasing assertiveness in the region have to end.

The senator said it is about time that the global community punishes Beijing for these illegal acts in the South China Sea through legislation that would hold violators to account and prevent others from supporting the country's illegal activities.

The senator from Florida lashed out at Beijing saying that based on international law, China has no legal right to stop military and civilian ships and planes of any country from using the free waters and airspace in the South China Sea and East China Sea regions.

US visas

The bill empowers the US President to slap sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals and denying US visas to Chinese businessmen and entities who are found to be funding Beijing's construction projects in the disputed seas.

Part of the bill also focuses on the US' withdrawal of foreign aid from countries who recognize China's authority over the region.

The proposal also directs the federal government to monitor international companies and Chinese individuals and business groups who have been helping the government to expand its reach in the disputed area.

No legal basis

Six months ago, a United Nations arbitration court ruled that China has no legal basis for its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The court said China's actions had violated international law and the Philippines' right to explore resources within its exclusive economic zone.

The case was filed by the Philippines against China three years ago before a Hague-Based court.

China has rejected the ruling saying the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that the verdict was "illegal" and a "piece of waste paper."

Aside from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, have overlapping territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea. 

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