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Voice of China: Dialogues, consultation yield bright future for South China Sea

(People's Daily Online)    17:06, May 22, 2017
Voice of China: Dialogues, consultation yield bright future for South China Sea

The 14th Senior Officials' Meeting on the Implementation of Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), together with the first meeting of the China-Philippines Bilateral Consultation on the South China Sea, were recently held in Guiyang, Guizhou province. Inspiring results and progress were achieved over the course of the two meetings.

The framework of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea has been approved under the DOC, the 11-party mechanism between China and 10 ASEAN countries. China and the Philippines both reviewed their experiences in dealing with maritime issues, exchanged ideas on the specific concerns of each party, and carried out discussion on pragmatic maritime cooperation in the next phase. All signs indicate that the South China Sea issue, which was once extremely disputed, is getting back on track through dialogue and consultation.

Some parties have hyped the dispute in the past, attempting to blame China for undermining peace and stability in the region. However, this attempt has collapsed when faced with the facts. Under the pretext of establishing rule-based order, the deeds of these parties were carried out neither to realize peace and stability nor for the development and benefit of surrounding countries; instead, they were done to protect the interests of their perpetrators.

Political tricks will never be tolerated in the South China Sea. Efforts to establish rule and order in the region were made by China and ASEAN countries in the 1990s. As a result, the DOC was completed in 2002. The DOC set up a code of conduct for countries directly involved in the dispute. The DOC sets out a plan to manage disagreements and enhance cooperation, establishing a foundation for positive interaction among these nations.

It is not only a reflection of wisdom and mutual trust, but also a showcase of regional countries' ability to deal with the South China Sea issue. Countries in the region have made healthy moves to strengthen dialogue and cooperation. China and the Philippines, for example, will cooperate on seismic research in the related waters.

History serves as a proof that the South China Sea issue can only be solved by the countries actually in the region. The situation stabilizes when these countries remove external disturbances and devote themselves to negotiation and consultation. Meanwhile, progress on the issue deteriorates when outside parties intervene.

Previous setbacks have made the countries involved realize that a bright future for the South China Sea can only be realized through joint efforts. This is a crucial moment. China sincerely hopes to implement the DOC, strive for agreement on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, strengthen communication and dialogue with regional countries, properly manage disputes and promote pragmatic cooperation.

The South China Sea has the potential to become a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship under the joint efforts of each party.

This commentary is edited and translated from 对话协商,拥抱南海美好未来(钟声)

Source: People's Daily

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