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Commentary: It is ridiculous for US to be chronically against China on South China Sea issue

By Zhang Junshe (People's Daily Online)    11:07, April 22, 2016
Commentary: It is ridiculous for US to be chronically against China on South China Sea issue
Yongshu Reef in South China Sea.

A Chinese navy patrol plane collected three sick workers from Yongshu Reef on Sunday and transported them to Sanya, a city in Hainan province.

Though this is a common humanitarian practice, the move gave rise to vocal complaints in Washington. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense questioned China's motivation for using a military aircraft instead of a civilian one to evacuate the workers.

This accusation once again reveals the tendency of the U.S. to object to China’s every move in the South China Sea. It is a common practice among most countries to send military aircraft for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. It was actually the U.S. military that invented the term “military operation other than war." This term applies to humanitarian assistance, recovery, evacuations not related to combat and government support.

The U.S., for example, sent military aircraft to help with relief efforts after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After flight MH370 went missing in 2014, many countries, including the U.S., sent battleships and military aircraft to assist with the search. The Chinese Navy also dispatched a missile destroyer that was on duty near the Nansha Islands for that purpose.

Therefore, the most recent accusations of the U.S. come out of nowhere and clearly contradict the "universal values" that the country has been publicizing. Along with democracy, freedom, human rights and equality, the right to live is also a crucial human right. However, when the lives of Chinese citizens are at risk, the U.S. suddenly questions China’s motivations in saving them.

When the U.S. reprimands China for carrying out standard construction projects on its own Nansha Islands, or when the U.S. smears China’s construction of a lighthouse on Zhubi Reef, the country is only demonstrating its double standard when it comes to helping the lives of regular citizens. Even when China does nothing more than try to improve the lives of its citizens, the U.S. cannot get past its deeply rooted suspicions.

In addition, the U.S. itself has been inducing militarization in the South China Sea. Recently, the U.S. convinced the Philippines and several other allies to cooperate on joint military drills and patrols. Such a move, with its very pointed aim, is the real root cause of inflamed tensions in the region.

The phrase "freedom of navigation," taken from the term "navigation freedom" in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has become an excuse for the U.S. to increase its military presence in the South China Sea. It is through this so-called "freedom of navigation" that the U.S. has violated the sovereignty and maritime rights of many coastal countries, and threatened regional peace and stability.

If the U.S. truly wants to maintain its position in the Asia-Pacific region, it must comply with international law. The U.S. should do more for the common interests of all the countries in the region, and abandon its chronic opposition to China.

(The author is a research fellow at China's Naval Research Institute) 

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

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