South China Sea saga
Beijing—The Chinese foreign ministry on Sunday urged the United States and Japan to stop pointing fingers at China on the South China Sea.
“Countries from outside should honor their commitments and not make irresponsible remarks on issues involving territorial sovereignty,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Beijing in response to remarks of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and his Japanese counterpart Gen Nakatani at a security summit in Singapore.
According to a press release from the ministry, during the Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday, Carter and Nakatani talked about the South China Sea issue and hurled unreasonable accusations at China.
“We have noted relevant remarks. They were mostly repeating their old tunes, which have no fact in them and are full of groundless accusations against China’s legitimate construction activities on relevant islands and reefs.” Hua said.
She added that they blamed China for the regional security issue when China is actually the victim and sowed discord between China and other regional countries.
“China is firmly opposed to that and the Chinese delegation attending the meeting has made our position clear.” Hua stressed the following points:
First, China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters, which is fully backed by historical and legal evidence. China has never acknowledged the so-called “status-quo” formed by other countries’ illegal occupation of Chinese territory, and is not going to do so.
Second, relevant construction has taken place on Chinese own territory. it went against no international law. It is the intention of some countries who have deployed large amounts of advanced weapons and equipment to the Asia-Pacific region that should cause alarm among regional countries.
Third, the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines is not meant to resolve disputes, but to negate China’s territorial right and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. This arbitration case severely undermines the sanctity and integrity of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), abuses and violates international law. China has already made clear non-acceptance and non-participatory position on the arbitration case.
Fourth, speaking of rules-based order, China and ASEAN countries inked the DOC back in 2002. The DOC is regional rules, which shall be abided by all parties.
On Friday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Shangri-La Dialogue that the maritime issue should not become a zero-sum game and regional countries should look beyond maritime border disputes and seek mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation.
Also,Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said at the meeting that the UN Charter, the UNCLOS and the DOC shall be taken into full consideration and relevant disputes in the South China Sea be resolved step by step.
“We have noted the relevant statements.” Hua said, adding that China always maintains that territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall be resolved peacefully between parties directly concerned through negotiation on the basis of respecting historical facts.
She said China supports and advocates the dual-track approach raised by ASEAN countries on properly resolving the South China Sea issue, that is, relevant disputes shall be resolved by countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation, peace and stability in the South China Sea shall be preserved by China and ASEAN countries together.
“China upholds a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security outlook for the region and believes that regional countries shall work together to build and share a path of regional security that benefits all.” Hua said.
She said, for regional countries, the challenges brought by non-traditional maritime security matters are more pressing.
All parties should enhance maritime practical cooperation, jointly address non-traditional maritime security threats, and maintain regional peace and stability on the sea, Hua said.