Saturday, June 04, 2016

China Will Not Fall Into Trap of South China Sea Arbitration: Chinese Ambassador
Source: Xinhua | 2016-06-03 19:51:30 | Editor: huaxia

JOHANNESBURG, June 2 (Xinhua) -- China will not give certain countries the satisfaction of tricking it into the trap of the South China Sea arbitration, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Tian Xuejun, said on Thursday.

In an article carried by Independent Media's nationwide newspaper The Star, Tian reveals the fallacy of the arbitration and reiterates the legitimacy of China's decision of neither participating in nor accepting the arbitration.

The ambassador elaborates on the practicability and effectiveness of the China-proposed settlement of disputes through peaceful negotiation and voices China's consistent and clear commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea region.

The daily Pretoria News also published this article, titled "China Will Not Fall into the Trap of South China Sea Arbitration."

Recently, the arbitration case around the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea has caught certain media attention around the world.

"With its seeming relevance to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international arbitration, many would be easily misled to view this issue as a matter of law, without giving much thought to the political aspect of the issue: What is the Philippines really up to? Who has really staged the whole political provocation? " the ambassador writes.

As a responsible member of the international community, China is strongly committed to the integrity and seriousness of the Convention and always opposes any attempt on political gains through the abuse or distortion of the Convention, says the ambassador.

The "disputed" Nansha Islands have long been part of the Chinese territory, which is not only supported by numerous historical evidence since ancient times, but also by the many international treaties from modern times. The heart of the South China Sea issue is the territorial dispute and the resulting maritime delimitation dispute caused by the Philippines' and some others' illegal seizure of China's Nansha Islands.

"What the Philippines really wants from this arbitration is to legitimize these unlawful seizures of the Chinese territory, despite the great lengths it has gone to make it look otherwise," the ambassador notes.

People who are familiar with the Convention should know that territorial issues are beyond the purview of the Convention, he says.

As for the maritime delimitation, in pursuant to Article 298 of the Convention, China made an exclusion declaration in 2006, thereby lawfully excluding itself from any compulsory dispute settlement procedure by a third-party. Apart from China, over 30 other countries, including Britain and France, have made the same exclusion declaration.

In this connection, the compulsory dispute settlement procedure of the Convention does not apply to the dispute between China and the Philippines, which is therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the international arbitration tribunal, Tian says.

"It has always been China's consistent policy that we do not participate in or accept the so-called arbitration, because with the arbitration itself being illegal, any decision that comes out of the process must be void," he stresses.

People who are familiar with the Convention are also aware that when it comes to dispute settlement, the provisions of the Convention are not solely about arbitration, but also attach equal importance to negotiations, stressing the need to respect contracting parties' independent choice for dispute settlement, Tian says.

In the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it is explicitly declared that the parties concerned should undertake to resolve their disputes by consultations and negotiations. This principle has also been reaffirmed in multiple bilateral instruments including joint statement between the governments of China and the Philippines.

"Unfortunately, of all the claims that the Philippines submitted to the arbitration tribunal, including the question of whether there is dispute over the interpretation and applicability of the Convention, none has been through serious consultation with China. Such behavior of the Philippines not only breached the agreement to resolve dispute through consultation as provided for in the DOC and bilateral instruments between the two countries, it also violated the principle that arbitration must be based on mutual consent," the ambassador writes.

He refutes the argument that China is such a big country that the Philippines is simply too small to stand up to in bilateral negotiation to settle territorial and maritime dispute.

"Such narrative against China is clearly a result of conventional bias towards large countries. The fact is, through friendly consultation and negotiation, China has already completed border demarcation with 12 of its 14 land neighbors, accounting for some 90 percent of the total land boundary," the ambassador says.

Through friendly negotiations, China and Vietnam have also delimited their maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf. Large numbers of past practices suggest that bilateral negotiation has its unique strength in resolving such complicated and sensitive issues as territorial sovereignty and maritime boundary delimitation, as it would fully reflect the independent will and sovereign equality of the countries concerned, thereby ensuring the negotiated result will enjoy better public acceptance and more effective implementation, writes Tian.

"China always believes that the disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through negotiation, managed through rules and mechanisms, and eased by joint development," the ambassador says.

Over years, based on these principles, China and ASEAN countries have together upheld peace and stability in the South China Sea, and there has never been any problem of security or freedom of navigation in the region.

Yet a certain country outside the region, in an effort to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific, keeps on playing up the South China Sea issue, excitingly roots for the Philippines and others to scale-up and complicate the situation, and repeatedly deploys warships to the region for the so-called "freedom of navigation operation", gravely escalating the tensions and complexity of the regional environment, the ambassador points out.

"Such manipulative moves to pursue one's own gains at the expense of others' interests and welfare is highly alarming," he notes.

"In our efforts to advance the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China has enjoyed tremendous support from many ASEAN member countries and countries beyond the region. China is willing to join efforts with all parties to make the South China Sea truly a sea of peace, cooperation, and prosperity," the ambassador concludes.

U.S. invisible hand behind South China Sea tension: South African commentator

Source: Xinhua | 2016-05-21 09:19:43 | Editor: huaxia

JOHANNESBURG, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The United States, in a very real sense, has been the invisible hand behind the rising tension in the South China Sea, a well-known South African commentator said in a commentary published in The Star newspaper on Friday.

It becomes tiresome to continue unravelling stories of the United States meddling in regions far away from its shores, trying to weaken other countries in order to maintain its global dominance, said Shannon Ebrahim.

"Why does the U.S. feel it has the right to endanger Chinese national security interests in the South China Sea?" she asked in the article titled "Islands that could lead to war."

The more one delves into the reality of the South China Sea issue, it becomes clearer that the United States actually thinks it has a right to manipulate regional dynamics in China's backyard so as to encircle it as a rising superpower, Ebrahim said.

"What is more incredible is that the U.S. believes it has the right to send 60 percent of its naval fleet and 60 percent of its overseas air force into the South China Sea by 2030. If this is not the ultimate display of arrogance then I don't know what is," she said.

Referring to the U.S. concern of freedom of navigation, Ebrahim said, "But China is equally committed to this principle, and has never attempted to hinder trade navigation in any way."

"In this case, China has international law on its side," she said.

"Despite attempts by neighboring countries to encroach onto the islands and take them over, China has proof of its sovereignty over them, going back centuries," Ebrahim wrote.

The history of Chinese people living and working on the South China Sea islands dates back to China's Han Dynasty some 2,000 years ago.

China has been seeking dialogue with its neighbors and advocating joint development of the South China Sea. But the U.S. Asia-Pacific re-balancing strategy that President Barack Obama introduced in 2009 has escalated tension, Ebrahim noted.

"In a very real sense the U.S. has been the invisible hand behind the rising tension, conducting joint naval exercises with claimants, orchestrating confrontational incidents with Chinese naval vessels, and even giving partial recognition to the Philippines' unilateral renaming of the South China Sea to the West Philippines Sea," Ebrahim wrote.

The United States, she said, has encouraged claimants to step up their efforts to take over the islands by engaging in joint exercises with the Philippines in the region.

Commentary: Will the South China Sea issue be a tipping point of China-U.S. relations?

Source: Xinhua | 2016-05-21 21:37:00 | Editor: huaxia

BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The increasingly active U.S. military presence in the South China Sea region is fanning tensions in the region, and fueling concerns that it may lead to a tipping point in China-U.S. ties.

On Tuesday, a U.S. EP-3 aircraft undertook close reconnaissance near Hainan Island forcing two Chinese fighter jets, which maintained a safe distance from the aircraft, to track and monitor its activities.

United States flag-bearing warships and military aircraft have been engaged in reconnaissance in the guise of "freedom of navigation and flyover."

Last week, the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence sailed within 12 nautical miles of Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands without Chinese permission: A clear violation of China's sovereignty.

This incident, which occurred close to Hainan Island, brings a similar event to mind. On April 1, 2001, a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft caused a Chinese fighter jet to crash in waters off Hainan, leading to the most serious diplomatic crisis between the two countries in decades.

The current military action in the region aggrandizes the chances of history repeating itself.

As it has yet to shake off its Cold War mentality when dealing with China, the United States seems intent on preventing a rising China from challenging its hegemony. This outlook is the root of its policies related to the South China Sea.

This mentality is outdated as peace and development are aspirations shared by both sides.

What would be the consequence should Chinese and U.S. aircraft collide over the South China Sea again, or similar incidents occur on the water between warships of the two countries?

China and the United States can agree on one thing: Neither wants the situation to escalate.

The two countries differ in the way they regard -- and handle -- the South China Sea issue, however, China-U.S. relations have never been better, and their common interests far outweigh their differences.

With bilateral exchanges in military, people-to-people and other fields increasing, and the two countries cooperating in global issues such as climate change and nuclear security, the South China Sea issue should not be allowed to a tipping point.

With over 100 exchange and dialogue mechanisms established between the two countries, differences can be controlled within limits, as long as both sides are sincere.

If the United States stops violating China's sovereignty and viewing it through an old-fashioned realistic geopolitical lens and, instead, takes a more constructive attitude toward China, it will find more converging interests.

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