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Outside forces complicate disputes in South China Sea

(Global Times)

08:24, July 16, 2012

Tensions have risen recently in the South China Sea amid disputes among nations in the area and there are people worrying that the situation will further escalate and even run out of control. The involvement of outside forces and provocations against China by other nations have made it more difficult to seek agreement over the issue.

The disputes in the South China Sea are mainly about the sovereignty of some islands and the administrative power over some sea waters. China so far remains committed to solving the two issues through peaceful means and bilateral negotiations. China's claims over islands in the South China Sea remain consistent.

China has been playing a crucial role in safeguarding safety and stability in the South China and it benefits from freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

China is willing to work with other relevant parties to further promote peace and stability in the region in accordance with the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

However, despite China's peaceful efforts in seeking peaceful solutions, the actions taken by the Philippines and Vietnam recently have been inconsistent with the code of conduct in which all parties agreed to exercise restraint and to refrain from actions which would escalate or complicate the disputes.

They not only stepped up their illegal exploration of oil and gas resources in waters under China's sovereignty, but bought more advanced weaponry and took part in military exercise in the region.

Some people wonder if China's consistent policy of putting aside disputes and seeking joint development can still work.

I think the overall situation at the moment is still controllable and stable. Military force is not an option at the moment, as it is still possible to seek a diplomatic solution.

That said, however, it can't be ruled out that tension could sharply ratchet up and even lead to some kind of conflict if the Philippines and Vietnam continue with their provocative actions. And more importantly, their actions are emboldened by outside forces, especially the US, which will only further complicate and internationalize the issue.

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