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Matching words with deeds

(China Daily)

09:02, August 05, 2011

Evidence abounds that the Philippines is not matching its words with deeds. It lacks sincerity in solving the South China Sea dispute with China in peace.

On Sunday, the Philippines' media reported that the country's navy will soon finish its second construction on Feixin Island, part of the Nansha Islands, which belong to China.

Feixin Island, called Patag by the Philippines, is the sixth largest among the nine islands being occupied by the Philippines in the disputed waters.

According to the Philippine Star, the shell-like structure, which the navy began building in late May, is to "shelter and protect troops guarding and securing the country's maritime domain" in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Philippine's navy is awaiting the arrival of the newly acquired USGC Hamilton. The cutter is the largest ever built for the US Coast Guard and, according to media reports in the Philippines, will be used to secure the natural resources and energy projects the country has illegally launched in the South China Sea.

Clearly Manila is not taking seriously the consensus on the South China Sea issue reached between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

China and ASEAN, of which the Philippines is a member state, agreed upon guidelines for implementing the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea on July 20 in Bali, Indonesia. The guidelines are widely perceived as showing a strong political will from the two sides to solve the maritime disputes in peace.

To stabilize the situation in the South China Sea, China and ASEAN have agreed that it is of utmost importance for concerned parties to exercise self-restraint and refrain from taking moves that may further complicate, widen the disputes or affect regional peace and stability.

What Manila has done not only constitutes an infringement of China's territorial integrity but also runs counter to ASEAN's stance and the spirit of the guidelines.

Settling the maritime disputes in peace will be a long-term and complex process. China does not oppose negotiations on binding principles at an appropriate time, but it strongly feels that pragmatic cooperation should be the first step toward attaining conditions ripe for such negotiations.

To pave the way for bilateral negotiations, concerned parties should strictly follow the guidelines and build mutual trust through cooperation.

The reckless moves taken by Manila do a disservice to cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels that aims to build momentum and mutual political trust toward resolving the maritime disputes peacefully.

China has long proposed that countries "shelve the disputes" and consent to "joint development". In this regard, it has always matched its words with deeds. But the parties concerned should clearly understand that China's principles and stance do not mean it will allow its territory to be nibbled away.

There could well be a high price to pay for any misjudgment on the South China Sea issue by countries like the Philippines.


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