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Interview: China viewed as defender of peace amid groundless accusations over South China Sea

(Xinhua)    09:40, May 31, 2015

SINGAPORE, May 30 -- China has always been a defender of world peace, while the South China Seaissue is, to certain extent, "sensationalized on purpose" by some countries in and outside the region, experts and officials said.

Huang Jing, director of the Center on Asia and Globalization at the National University of Singapore, said there have been many crises since the Cold War, such as Libya, Egypt, Kosovo as well as Ukraine. A lot of issues have also been seen across Asia, including the nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula and the disputes in East China Sea and South China Sea.

"However, one important fact is, all the crises with Western involvement ended up in war without any exception," he told Xinhua on Friday on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue. "China is the defender of world peace, not a trouble-maker."

Stressing that the South China Sea dispute is the issue among claimant states, Huang believed the most effective way to solve it is through negotiations between concerned parties, and any attempt to introduce outside forces will only complicate it.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in his keynote speech to the ongoing Shangri-la Dialogue on Saturday that his country will continue to fly, sail and operate in the region wherever international law allows, and called for an "immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants."

Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China's National Defense Ministry, dismissed Carter's views on the South China Sea as "incomplete and lack of jurisprudential evidence".

"Freedom of navigation should be for the benefits of economic development, rather than sending military aircraft and vessels everywhere," Guan pointed out.

He said that China has been exercising restraints over the South China Sea issue, hoping Washington should treat the issue with a more objective way.

The topic of South China Sea has been under spotlight at the Shangri-La Dialogue in recent years. However, Huang said the South China Sea dispute has not been hyped up until the United Statesannounced its "pivot to Asia" strategy in 2010.

"The South China Sea issue has been there for decades. Why it was not a big issue previously, but has been one now?" he asked.

Huang said the U.S. intervention has led to two levels of imbalances, with one between China and the United States as the first one. The other is the imbalance between China and its neighboring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Given these imbalances, it is clear that China has been trying to avoid conflicts, showing China's willingness to safeguard peace in the region.

"In some sense, the South China Sea issue was sensationalized on purpose," Huang said.

Huang said before 2010, media coverage on the South China Sea issue was no more than 30 pieces. However, after the U.S. high- profile "pivot to Asia," reports about the issue went up to over 3, 000.

"It's because China has become stronger," Huang explained. "A long period after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China's foreign policy was to safeguard its own land. However, it now has the ability to defend its own rights in the South China Sea."

Despite the differences, U.S. defense chief Carter also noted cooperation between the two major countries in recent years.

He said beyond exercises and military-to-military cooperation, China and the United States have also cooperated in confronting world challenges, including natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

This reflects Chinese President Xi Jinping's security concept for Asia, which he called for a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security strategy in the region.

"If China could perform as a leading role in mutual development, it will foster basic common interests within the region, and it is therefore possible to achieve common security," Huang said. "And this also echoes what Xi has said, China today is the determined advocate and strong defender of world peace."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Chun,Bianji)

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