NEWSLETTER Issue VI of 2016


What is China's approach

To address the South China Sea issue?



China is committed to resolving the disputes in a peaceful manner through negotiations and consultations.


Any ultimate resolution of territorial issues in the world, no matter through what kind of mechanisms or processes, including recourse to a third-party settlement, must be based on the will of the states involved and eventually agreed to by the parties concerned through negotiations. Only in this way can there be a fundamental and lasting settlement which will be followed through. This is a common international practice.


The negotiation process between China and its neighbors to resolve land and maritime boundary issues itself is a practice of international law. China borders 14 countries on land and has an about 22,000km land boundary. It has signed border treaties with 12 out of 14 land neighbors with over 20,000km of delineated and demarcated borderlines. After more than 20 years of negotiation, China and Vietnam completed the delimitation of maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf. Such tremendous progress would not have been possible without China's observance of international law.


China will continue to uphold international law by handling issues of territory sovereignty and maritime rights and interests through negotiations and consultations.


China supports and advocates the "dual track" approach initiated by ASEAN Member States to handle the South China Sea issue, i.e. while the relevant disputes are to be resolved through negotiations and consultations between the states directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and the international law, China and ASEAN Member States will work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. This approach complies with international law and relevant international practices, reflects the important understanding and solemn commitment of China and ASEAN Member States in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and represents the most realistic and effective way to properly handle the South China Sea issue at present.


Despite infringement on its territory and maritime interests in the South China Sea, China is a firm defender and major contributor to peace and stability in the South China Sea. Since the 1990s, China and ASEAN Member States have worked at both bilateral and multilateral levels to enhance communication and cooperation.


In 2002, China and ASEAN Member States signed the DOC. In 2011, China and the ASEAN Member States established the mechanisms of the Senior Officials' Meeting and Joint Working Group Meeting for implementation the DOC. In 2013, China and ASEAN countries officially launched COC consultations within the framework of DOC implementation. "Early Harvest" has been reaped in these consultations. The parties adopted two Lists of Commonalities and agreed to establish the Hotline Platform on Search and Rescue among China and ASEAN Member States and the Senior Officials' Hotline Platform in Response to Maritime Emergencies among Ministries of Foreign Affairs of China and ASEAN Member States. The parties have also agreed to discuss the formulation of Preventive Measures on Managing Incidents at Sea to effectively manage the maritime situation pending the final conclusion of the COC consultations and prevent unexpected incidents.


Since the signing of the DOC, China and ASEAN Member States have worked timelessly to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. Thanks to the effective efforts of China and ASEAN Member States, the South China Sea has long been peaceful and stable rather than tense as claimed by certain countries.


The construction activities on some islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands fall within the scope of China's sovereignty. The main purpose is to satisfy all sorts of civilian needs. It will enable China to better fulfill its international responsibilities and obligations concerning maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, meteorological observation, ecological environment preservation, navigation safety, fishery production and services, etc. China has built necessary defense facilities to protect these islands and reefs and the personnel and facilities on them. These facilities are on China's own territory and are legitimate, justifiable and defensive in nature, therefore should not be viewed as "militarization". The measures China takes are not different from the common practice of other countries, and do not affect in any way freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law. China's commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes in South China Sea through negotiations and consultations has not changed and will not change.




Embassy of the People's Republic of China

Address: 3505, International Place, NW Washington DC, 20008




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