China’s In­dis­putable Sovereignty Over the Nan­sha Is­lands

Ouyang yu­jing on the south china sea is­sue

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Edited by Zoe

Ouyang Yu­jing, born Au­gust 1965, is cur­rently serv­ing as di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Depart­ment of Bound­ary and Ocean Af­fairs of the Chi­nese Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs. Since he be­gan work­ing with the For­eign Min­istry in 1990, Ouyang has long been fo­cused on work re­lated to China’s bor­ders, oceanic ter­ri­tory, and avail­able coun­ter­mea­sures. Re­cently, as the head of China’s gov­ern­ment agency re­spon­si­ble for for­eign af­fairs re­lated to bound­ary and ocean af­fairs, Ouyang spoke on the South China Sea is­sue, which is gain­ing global fo­cus, from four as­pects. He pointed out that China unswerv­ingly pur­sues in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy of peace, es­pe­cially friendly re­la­tions with neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. China has been main­tain­ing this ba­sic pol­icy to re­solve ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes over land bound­aries and mar­itime in­ter­ests and rights with neigh­bors across both land and sea. And this stance will not change.

China Re­jects Ar­bi­tra­tion on Sovereignty Is­sue

Ouyang pointed out that the Nan­sha Is­lands have been China’s ter­ri­tory since an­cient times. The core of the South China Sea is­sue is the ter­ri­to­rial dispute caused by the Philip­pines’ and other coun­tries’ il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of Chi­nese is­lands and reefs in the wa­ters around the Nan­sha Is­lands and the mar­itime de­mar­ca­tion that re­sulted from the for­ma­tion and estab­lish­ment of new reg­u­la­tions on the law of the sea. In Jan­uary 2013, the Philip­pines uni­lat­er­ally filed an ar­bi­tra­tion case against China over the is­sue with the Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion at The Hague. China has re­fused to take part in the pro­ceed­ings. Ouyang re­marked that China’s po­si­tion of non-ac­cep­tance and non-par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ar­bi­tra­tion is clear and con­sis­tent, and is based on the fol­low­ing three fac­tors:

First, China and the Philip­pines have al­ready signed joint com­mu­niques and dec­la­ra­tions that the two par­ties would re­solve dis­putes through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sul­ta­tions. Se­cond, ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 4 of Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea (DOC), which was signed by China and ten ASEAN coun­tries in 2002, “the Par­ties con­cerned un­der­take to re­solve their ter­ri­to­rial and ju­ris­dic­tional dis­putes by peace­ful means, through friendly con­sul­ta­tions and ne­go­ti­a­tions by sov­er­eign states di­rectly con­cerned.” Third, in 2006, China sub­mit­ted a dec­la­ra­tion on op­tional ex­cep­tions un­der Ar­ti­cle 298 of the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea. Since the Ar­bi­tra­tion Court ju­ris­dic­tion con­cerns sovereignty, his­toric rights and en­ti­tle­ment, China is ex­empt from the ar­bi­tra­tion. There is no pro­vi­sion in the con­ven­tion to en­force an ad­verse award on China.

China’s Law­ful Is­land and Reef Con­struc­tion

China’s con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties on the South China Sea is­lands and reefs are aimed first and fore­most at im­prov­ing the work­ing and liv­ing con­di­tions for per­son­nel sta­tioned there and bet­ter ful­fill­ing China’s rel­e­vant in­ter­na­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and obli­ga­tions, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing civil ser­vices for nav­i­ga­tion safety, sci­en­tific re­search, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, emer­gency res­cue, and weather fore­cast­ing. When con­di­tions per­mit, China will in­vite coun­tries in need to use rel­e­vant fa­cil­i­ties for co­op­er­a­tion in mar­itime search, dis­as­ter preven­tion and mit­i­ga­tion, and eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment pres- er­va­tion, as well as in other ar­eas. At present, more than 100,000 mer­chant ships sail across the South China Sea ev­ery year. Build­ing and op­er­at­ing light­houses on reefs and is­lands has played an im­por­tant role in guar­an­tee­ing the nav­i­ga­tion safety of these ves­sels. Ouyang noted that by the end of June 2015, China had al­ready com­pleted land recla­ma­tion projects on some is­lands, soon fol­lowed by fa­cil­ity con­struc­tion. These projects have all pro­ceeded as sched­uled and will not be af­fected by the re­sult of ar­bi­tra­tion.

China’s Goal on the South China Sea Is­sue

When talk­ing about China’s goal on the South China Sea is­sue, Ouyang as­serted that the core of the is­sue re­mains a dispute over ter­ri­tory and mar­itime de­mar­ca­tion. In ad­dress­ing the is­sue, the fol­low­ing re­marks rep­re­sent China’s stance: First, China in­sists on solv­ing dis­putes through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion be­tween di­rectly re­lated par­ties. Se­cond, the coun­try will man­age and con­trol dis­putes through es­tab­lish­ing rules and mech­a­nism. Third, China aims to ease ten­sions through co­op­er­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment. China seeks ap­pro­pri­ate solutions through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sul­ta­tions with coun­tries di­rectly in­volved in the South China Sea is­sue, based on the re­spect for his­tor­i­cal facts and in­ter­na­tional laws. Be­fore set­tling on a so­lu­tion to the dis­putes, China pro­poses to man­age dis­putes with reg­u­la­tions and mech­a­nisms. At the same time, to mit­i­gate dis­putes, China strongly ad­vo­cates re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially sce­nar­ios where each party wins and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial out­comes are achieved.

No Timetable for COC

China has re­mained ac­tively in­volved in con­sul­ta­tions with South­east Asian na­tions on for­mu­lat­ing a Code of Con­duct in the South China Sea (COC), with an aim to re­solve dis­putes through di­a­logues. Ouyang pointed out that in the 1990s, China and ASEAN coun­tries started ne­go­ti­a­tions to for­mu­late the DOC. After seven years, the doc­u­ment was fi­nally signed in 2002. It took another ten years for China and ASEAN coun­tries to reach a se­ries of im­por­tant con­sen­suses on im­ple­ment­ing the DOC, which fully demon­strated the com­plex­ity of the South China Sea is­sue. In Septem­ber 2013, China and ASEAN coun­tries of­fi­cially launched ne­go­ti­a­tions on a COC, which has yielded abun­dant pos­i­tive re­sults al­ready. China’s at­ti­tude demon­strates its res­o­lu­tion to ad­dress dis­putes through con­sul­ta­tion and negotiation. There is no def­i­nite timetable for COC con­sul­ta­tion. For such a com­plex and sys­tem­atic project, it is im­pos­si­ble to set an ex­act sched­ule. Any such sched­ule would be more ide­al­ist than prag­matic.

The South China Sea is­sue has be­come one of the ma­jor ir­ri­tants in the China- U.S. re­la­tions in re­cent years, over which the pub­lic opinion in the two coun­tries has been very crit­i­cal of each other. China’s pur­suit in the South China Sea has been con­sis­tently main­tained. That is to safe­guard na­tional ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and main­tain re­gional peace and tran­quil­ity. To ob­serve China, one should never lose sight of the his­tor­i­cal di­men­sion.

Fish deal­ers un­load bas­kets of fish from boats be­fore selling them in the fish mar­ket at Tan­men Port in Tan­men Town, south­ern Hainan Prov­ince. CFP

Yongx­ing Is­land, part of China’s Xisha Is­lands, serves as the gov­ern­ment seat of San­sha City. Es­tab­lished in 2012 upon the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the State Coun­cil of China, the city gov­erns islets, sand­banks and reefs of the Xisha, Nan­sha, and Zhong­sha is­lands and their ad­ja­cent wa­ters in the South China Sea. by Zha Chunming

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.