|The Mischief Reef (known by Vietnamese as the Vành Khăn Reef) of Vietnam's Spratly archipelago is where China has illegally built artificial islands (Photo: Getty)
The three cited the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which sets out the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas.
They said that China’s so-called “historic rights” over the South China Sea waters “do not comply” with international law and UNCLOS. They insisted that the integrity of the Convention must be maintained, and underlined the importance of unhampered freedom on the high seas, specifically the freedom of navigation and overflight, enshrined in UNCLOS.
The three countries rejected Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea, and said China’s island building and other forms of artificial transformation cannot change the classification of a feature under UNCLOS.