Let calm, peace return to South China Sea

09:36, July 27, 2011      

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The dispute in the South China Sea was the highlight of the recently concluded foreign ministers' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Bali, Indonesia on July 23. It is universally acknowledged that the South China Sea is China's territorial waters. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said that China and ASEAN member nations adopted the guideline to implement the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," which paved the way for further cooperation in the South China Sea and showed China and ASEAN member nations were rational and capable of solving the dispute.

South China Sea dispute should be laid aside

China firmly holds the stance that the dispute in the South China Sea should be solved through peaceful negotiation. Signed in November 2002 by China and ASEAN countries, the declaration aims to maintain stability, enhance mutual trust and boost cooperation in the South China Sea and create a sound condition and environment for the countries concerned in solving the disputes. However, the regional situation has never been peaceful over the past nine years.

Shen Jiru, research fellow with the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that countries in surrounding areas, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, misunderstood China's sincerity of peace and took China's forbearance and patience as a sign of weakness. They invaded and occupied the islands and reefs that belonged to China on both historical and legal bases.

Second, he said some countries in the region applied double standards to the declaration: On one hand, they regarded it as a tool to restrain China. On the other, they took the declaration lightly and never kept themselves within its bounds. Third, some countries in the region, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, who launched military exercises with the United States and insisted on multilateral negotiations, attempted to complicate the matter, make it more international and exert pressure on China. Such moves can only deteriorate the situation in the region.

Teng Jianqun, research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, said that the Declaration had played a crucial role in maintaining peace and stability in South China Sea. Neighboring countries have never launched a military occupation since the declaration was signed. Because the declaration is legally binding, Vietnam and the Philippines changed their mode of invasion from military occupation to seizure of oil, gas and other resources and continuously expanded the scope and intensity.
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