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South China Sea issue should not come between China and US: Chinese ambassador

(People's Daily)    22:14, July 17, 2016

As a country outside the region that has no territorial disputes with China, the US should not make the South China Sea an issue between the two countries, Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said in a recent article published by People’s Daily, urging the US to take the right position and build a new model for its relationship with China.

“South China Sea disputes should not be seen as a ‘strategic competition’ between China and the US either,” Cui wrote in the article.

Through the diverse efforts of China and other regional countries, the South China Sea situation had been under control for quite a long time and regional nations were discussing increased cooperation, but tensions began to emerge about five or six years ago, Cui said, adding that the turning point basically occurred around the same time the US launched its “Pivot to Asia” policy.

By unilaterally initiating an ill-grounded arbitration over the South China Sea, the Philippines exposed its desire to use the legal pretext as a political tool, Cui said, adding that the case flies in the face of the general practice that arbitration shall be premised on State consent.

The case has also opened Pandora's Box when it comes to the abuse of arbitration procedures, he said, explaining that this precedent will not only cripple the world’s efforts to settle disputes through negotiation and consultation, but also ultimately undermine the authority and effectiveness of international law.

The ambassador explained that China’s rejection of the arbitration not only aims to protect its own interests, but also to uphold international justice and fulfill its responsibility to defend the basic norms of international law.

Cui pointed out that the US has exposed its thinking that “might makes right” by using “freedom of navigation” as an excuse to frequently send warships, aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and reconnaissance aircraft to the South China Sea.

He further elaborated that the waterways in the South China Sea serve as an economic lifeline for China and many other regional countries, therefore the utmost effort is needed to ensure commerce in the region while any attempt to cause regional turbulence must be curbed.

The real concerns in the region lie with the large amount of warships, military aircraft and advanced weapons deployed by the US, Cui stressed, adding that they are the real culprit that has hindered the freedom of navigation for commercial and civilian ships from various countries.

“In any part of the world, such a large stockpile of armaments would be seen as a source of tensions,” the ambassador added.

With its stanch determination to safeguard its own rights and interests as well as international justice, China will never succumb to any pressure, nor haggle about its core interests, he said, reaffirming China’s stance on the issue.

China’s diplomatic efforts to settle South China Sea disputes will not be blocked by a piece of baseless paper nor several aircraft carriers, Cui underlined, noting at the same time that amid the current situation, dialogue between parties directly concerned is the only feasible way to settle disputes.

He also cited successful examples that China has delimited and demarcated boundaries with 12 of its 14 land neighbors through bilateral negotiations and consultations, while China and Vietnam have also delimited through negotiation the boundaries between their territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in the Beibu Gulf.

Cui also reiterated China’s commitment to building a new model for major-country relationships featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the US.

In today’s world, the Cold War mentality does not work any more. China hopes the US can make the right decision about whether it needs a cooperative partner or an imaginary enemy, the ambassador said at the end of the article. 

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