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China resolutely defends South China Sea sovereignty despite US military muscle: People’s Daily

(People's Daily)    02:54, June 28, 2016

The US is accelerating its militarization of the seas by flexing its military muscles even as China exercises maximum restraint on the South China Sea issue, the People’s Daily said in a commentary published on Monday.

Concerned over the increasing threat from the US as gleaned from its statements and actions, China is committed to protecting its sovereignty and interests, added the article published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” a Chinese-language homonym for “voice of China” often used to express the paper's views on foreign policy.

The paper added that while the US meddles at sea, China has been pushing for a proper resolution through consultations and negotiations.

The full text of the article reads as follows:

The islands in the South China Sea have been an integral part of China since ancient times. Its sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea was never challenged by any country before the 1970s.

But with new discoveries of rich marine resources at that time, some countries adjacent to the South China Sea region illegally occupied some of China's Nansha Islands.

The Philippines and other countries even attempted to deny China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands with a so-called excuse of “maritime jurisdiction,” claiming the islands are within the range of 200 nautical miles from their coast.

In other words, China is the victim whose sovereignty was infringed. Though China exercised restraint on their illegal occupation at that time, it does not mean it’s incapable of stopping it. China has its bottom line and the Chinese government will never compromise on the sovereignty issue.

China has no oil or gas wells south of the South China Sea. What’s more, Chinese fishing boats and fishermen are often detained illegally. These prove that instead of being a bully, China is a victim in the waters.

China has maintained that overlapping territorial claims should be resolved through negotiations and consultations based on international law and a respect for historical facts.

Since the 1960s, China has resolved boundary issues with 12 of the 14 land neighbors through this method. These achievements also serve as the best evidence of China’s commitment to an independent and friendly foreign policy, a diplomacy of good-neighborly friendship, as well as its determination to defend international law.

China has also applied the approach of peaceful negotiations and consultations to the South China Sea issue. In 2002, it signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with the 10 ASEAN members.

The Ren'ai Reef issue also served as another piece of evidence. China could have chosen to haul away the Philippine military vessel illegally "grounded" there, but it has been exercising restraint for the sake of overall stability in the South China Sea.

The truth about the South China Sea issue is that it was the Philippines who betrayed its promise. The country pledged to resolve the disputes through negotiations and consultations in a joint statement issued with China in 2011, but filed an arbitration case over a year later without informing China.

China will never accept and participate in such a one-sided game. The arbitration, with no binding legal effect, will only increase tensions. The Philippines has to swallow the bitter pill it created.

As early as 2006, the Chinese government announced that it is excluding disputes over maritime delimitation and territorial sovereignty from compulsory dispute settlement procedures. Such a declaration is consistent with provisions in Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China is among 30 countries to have made such a statement. Amid this backdrop, China’s non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration case is faithful to international law, including UNCLOS. Such reasonable acts, in turn, protect the authority of UNCLOS.

It would be risky if the arbitral tribunal forcibly rules over the case against the basic rules of UNCLOS and the common sense of international politics. If so, the arbitrators will not escape the history’s judgment either.

The US, which regards the fast-developing China as a threat to its global dominance, plays a hand in the South China Sea issue. In recent years, the US has been confining China with its "Asia-Pacific Rebalance" strategy. As a country outside of the region, its interference on the issue exposes its intention to militarize the South China Sea.

What’s more, it is the US that sent aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the region. US military officials loosened their tongues to destabilize regional peace and stability. Such actions have deepened China’s concerns over its interests, and fueled its determination to better defend them.

China will not ask for anything which does not belong to it, but will fight for every inch of its territory within its sovereignty.

In addition, there is no need for the US to worry about the so-called "China threat" as the latter always values harmony and treasures peace. China, with no intention to be a superpower or regional leader, will resolutely take a peaceful path. It will never fight with anyone in the so-called “new strategic playground of geopolitics” as defined by the US.

China will continue to help construct, participate and contribute to the current international order, resolutely protect the international system with the UN Charter as the core, preserve world peace, and promote regional prosperity and stability. 

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

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