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Senators Cotton, Rubio, Cardin Reintroduce Bill Targeting Chinese Aggression in South China Sea

May 23, 2019

Contact Caroline Tabler or James Arnold (202) 224-2353

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) today reintroduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act, a bipartisan bill to impose sanctions against Chinese entities that participate in Beijing's illegitimate attempts to assert its expansive maritime and territorial claims in these disputed regions. Co-sponsored by 13 Senators, this legislation is timely given ongoing efforts by the United States to conduct freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Read more about this bipartisan legislation in the South China Morning Post.

"China has illegally built thousands of acres of artificial islands in the South China Sea for military bases. Its goal is to control this critical trade route and cement its dominance of the Indo-Pacific region. Our bill would sanction individuals and companies that are helping Beijing steal the South China Sea," said Cotton.

"This bipartisan bill seeks to reinforce America's strong and enduring commitment to securing a free and open Indo-Pacific, including in the South China Sea and East China Sea," said Rubio. "Because the Chinese Government's ongoing and flagrant violations of international norms in the South China and East China Seas cannot go unchecked, this legislation authorizes new sanctions to put Beijing on notice that the United States means business and intends to hold violators accountable."

"China has been bully in both the South and East China Seas, encroaching on and intimidating its neighbors. Such aggressive behavior cannot go on unchecked," said Cardin. "The United States will defend the free-flow of commerce and freedom of navigation, as well as promote the peaceful diplomatic resolution of disputes consistent with international law. I am pleased to join Senator Rubio and our colleagues to send a strong bipartisan message in defense of our national interests and those of our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Our legislation underscores America's continued commitment to promote freedom and uphold the rule of law in East Asia."

Joining Rubio and Cardin as original cosponsors of the legislation are Senators Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Todd Young (R-Indiana), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Doug Jones (D-Alabama), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).