Air de­fense zone called op­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing an­bai­jie@chi­

It will de­pend on ‘ level of threat’ from oth­ers, se­nior diplo­mat says

China could set up an air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone over the South China Sea if it felt threat­ened, a se­nior diplo­mat said on Wed­nes­day amid ris­ing mar­itime ten­sions caused by the Philip­pines’ ar­bi­tra­tion case.

The dec­la­ra­tion of such a zone, which would re­quire air­craft en­ter­ing the zone to iden­tify them­selves to the mil­i­tary, will de­pend on “the level of threat we re­ceive”, said ViceFor­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min.

“If our se­cu­rity is be­ing threat­ened, of course we have the right to de­mar­cate a zone. This would de­pend on our over­all as­sess­ment,” Liu said, adding that other coun­tries should not “take this op­por­tu­nity to threaten China” and not “let it be­come the ori­gin of a war”.

“China’s aim is to turn the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion,” he added.

Liu made the re­marks at a news con­fer­ence dur­ing which a white pa­per was re­leased by the State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice. The five-chap­ter white pa­per elab­o­rated on China’s pol­icy of ad­her­ing to “the po­si­tion of set­tling through ne­go­ti­a­tion the dis­putes be­tween China and the Philip­pines in the South China Sea”.

The core of the dis­putes be­tween China and the Philip­pines lies in ter­ri­to­rial is­sues caused by the Philip­pines’ in­va­sion and il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of some is­lands and reefs of the Nan­sha Is­lands, the white pa­per says.

Liu ac­cused the five judges of the tem­po­rary Ar­bi­tral Tri­bunal at The Hague, which an­nounced its rul­ing in the case on Tues­day, of “mak­ing money from the Philip­pines”, adding that “maybe other peo­ple gave them money, too”.

The tri­bunal, which ruled that China has no “his­toric ti­tle” over the South China Sea, has no ju­ris­dic­tion over sovereignty is­sues, Liu said.

A Ja­panese for­mer pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Tri­bunal for the Law of the Sea, Shunji Yanai, “ma­nip­u­lated the en­tire pro­ceed­ings” from be­hind the scenes, Liu added.

The diplo­mat also ques­tioned whether the five judges, four from EU coun­tries and the Ghana­ian chair­man, a long­time res­i­dent of Europe, could un­der­stand the com­plex geo­graphic pol­i­tics of Asia.

“I hope you put this (ar­bi­tral) de­ci­sion in the wastepa­per bas­ket, or on the book­shelf, or fil­ing cabi­net and keep it there,” Liu told re­porters.

China hopes that the Philip­pines’ new gov­ern­ment, led by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, will not use the ar­bi­tra­tion re­sults, Liu said. He added that China is will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with its South China Sea neigh­bors on jointly ex­ploit­ing oil and gas re­sources in the wa­ters.

Guo Weimin, vice-min­is­ter of the State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice, China’s top in­ter­na­tional pub­lic­ity au­thor­ity, said dur­ing the news con­fer­ence that Chi­nese deem the South China Sea as their “an­ces­tors’ sea”, where ar­bi­tra­tion “could not make a wave”.

Wang Chong, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the think tank Charhar In­sti­tute, said ne­go­ti­a­tion is the most fea­si­ble and ef­fec­tive way to deal with mar­itime dis­putes now.

The talks must be held di­rectly be­tween China and the Philip­pines, with­out med­dling from other coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, he added.

Apart from mak­ing po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ef­forts, China should also keep high mil­i­tary alert in the South China Sea in case of emer­gen­cies, said Wang Yusheng, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Strat­egy Re­search Cen­ter at the China In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies Re­search Fund.

The Ja­panese Coast Guard and Philip­pine Coast Guard started a joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise on Wed­nes­day off Manila Bay.


Flight at­ten­dants of Hainan Air­lines ar­rive at Zhubi Reef in the South China Sea on Wed­nes­day. The air­plane was one of two air­lin­ers that landed for the first time on run­ways on Meiji Reef and Zhubi Reef.

Guo Weimin

A light­house stands on Meji Reef

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