The US government said on Monday that its recent report dismissing China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea was meant, in part, to help more countries challenge Beijing on this front, and that Washington would not accept any of the claims. The US State Department’s report, the latest in a series titled “Limits in the Seas”, includes an examination of Beijing’s response to the 2016 ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague, which included a declaration that the determination was “null and void”. The previous edition was published in 2014. The ruling said that China had no “historic rights” in the South China Sea and that some of the rocky outcrops claimed by several countries could not legally be used as the basis for territorial claims. “This study is a very important basis on which friends and allies can draw to push back on the claims,” said Constance Arvis, acting deputy assistant secretary for oceans, fisheries and polar affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. “We do hope that this is part of an ongoing push by nations who are conforming to regular international practice to push back on the [Chinese government’s] illegal maritime claims,” she said. Arvis added that the effort was done to help additional countries, outside of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), publicly rebuke Beijing for its defiance of the tribunal’s ruling. “We definitely are not accepting a fait accompli,” in terms of claims staked by Beijing and construction activity undertaken to support them, Arvis said. China carried out a land reclamation project in the Spratly Islands, about 240km (149 miles) west of the Philippine island of Palawan, between 2013 and 2016 that expanded reefs into islands as large as 558 hectares (1,379 acres). Some of the reefs were submerged during high tides. New stealth moves as US Navy ramps up South China Sea visits Tempers have flared over China’s Spratlys Island claims in recent months, with Beijing demanding that Manila remove a naval vessel grounded on a shoal in the area and Philippine defence chief Delfin Lorenzana responding by calling China a “trespasser”. Ownership of the Spratlys is contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and the Chinese construction project sparked international criticism over environmental damage even before the tribunal ruled. “After that  Philippine-China arbitration, the People’s Republic of China re-articulated its South China Sea maritime claims, making it clear that it was claiming historic rights, and also articulating this novel theory that one could draw baselines around entire island groups in the South China Sea,” Robert Harris, a State Department legal adviser, said on Monday. “Because of that re-articulation, our 2014 analysis was not complete,” he said. “And because of that we undertook trying to understand, as best we could, what is the PRC’s maritime claim and evaluating that for purposes of international law.” International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said in a report in November that China’s island construction in the Spratlys had “facilitated the pervasive maritime presence of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, the Chinese Coast Guard and China’s maritime militia”. “The material changes wrought by China [since the 2016 ruling] are accompanied by novel legal arguments, which point to China’s ambition to shape the international order along its periphery,” its report said.