Ambassador Cui Tiankai's Interview with "Amanpour" of
CNN on an U.S. warship's Entry into Waters near Relevant
Islands and Reefs of China's Nansha Islands
2015/10/27

 

On October 27, 2015, Ambassador Cui Tiankai had an interview with Ms. Christiane Amanpour, host of CNN'S AMANPOUR on an U.S. warship's entry into waters near relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands.

The following is the link to the interview:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/10/27/china-intv-amanpour-cui-tiankai.cnn

The following is the full transcript of the interview:

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, welcome back to the program.

CUI TIANKAI, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, the United States, the State Department has said that whatever is happening right now in the South China Sea should not jeopardize the healthy relationship between Beijing and the United States. Do you agree that this will not jeopardize the relationship?

CUI: Well, first of all, I think that what the U.S. is doing is a very serious provocation, politically and militarily. It is a clear attempt to escalate the situation and to militarize the region. So we are very concerned about that. I think that other people, all of the people who want to maintain stability there have good reason to be concerned. And I do hope that we will work together to maintain this relationship, to keep this relationship healthy and moving forward.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, there's obviously been a -- I hate to say it but a war of words between both capitals in the last 24 hours. The U.S. Defense Secretary says that they will continue to fly and sail and do whatever they want in that region, because it is international waters and they are supported by all their allies; whereas, from Beijing, the foreign ministry has said, and I quote, that "if the U.S. continues to create tensions," then Beijing might conclude it has to increase and strengthen the building up of our relevant abilities. What does that mean?

CUI: Well, it is a very absurd and even hypocritical position to ask others not to militarize the region while oneself is sending military vessels there so frequently. So I think the people do have to think about it in a very serious way and we have to think about it. We have to make sure that we have sufficient means to safeguard our sovereignty there, to protect our lawful rights there and we have sufficient means to maintain peace and stability there. And nobody would have any more illusion that they could continue to provoke.

AMANPOUR: But what precisely do you think that means, sir, if the United States says that it is going to continue to do what it has, it claims the right under international law to do?

CUI: I think that this is done in total disregard of international law. If we look at the convention of the law of the sea -- and, by the way, the United States is not yet a party to that Convention. But if we are looking at the provisions of the Convention, there are very, very clear provisions about safety of navigation, freedom of navigation or innocent transit. What the U.S. is doing is totally against the provisions, the letter and spirit of the Convention.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea that you mention basically says that 12 nautical mile limits cannot be set around man-made islands which are built on previously submerged reefs, which is, in fact, what China has done, built up reefs and called them islands and claimed them as territory. You know, is there not a way that there can be some political resolution of this with the United States and with allies around that region?

CUI: We have longstanding sovereignty over the islands in the region and the waters surrounding them. It is not something based on any so-called man-made facilities there or feature there.

AMANPOUR: Except for that they are submerged reefs and certainly Admiral Blair, Dennis Blair told us that you can't really form policy today based on very old and outdated maps of many, many years ago. And he also said that China seems to be isolating itself, given that all the regional countries are also supporting the United States, because they, too, have territorial and maritime disputes with you and they want to see these waters kept open.

CUI: Well, you can not say that because people have a longstanding position on something, positions that originated many, many years ago can no longer be valid today. You cannot say things like that. Of course, if we go back many, many years ago, there was no United States.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Cui, but there is a United States now and it is a superpower and the president of China just visited Washington and there seemed to be a fairly warm environment. The fact that this is happening so quickly after that visit, what does it say about the relationship? And what do you think is going to happen next? What, in your mind, in Beijing's mind, is the solution to what's happening?

CUI: I think that you have just asked a very good question and I hope the White House will give you the answer. We are also puzzled. We are very concerned about this latest development. But whatever is happening now, will not change our position on the sovereignty in the region, will not weaken our determination to safeguard our sovereignty, will not weaken our commitment to seek a peaceful solution to the disputes with the countries concerned, and certainly will not weaken our position and commitment to developing a healthy and strong relationship with the United States but we see it as two-way traffic. We have to have a reciprocal action from the United States.

AMANPOUR: Well, President Xi last month told President Obama that China is not militarizing the islands but the United States says that its surveillance shows that there is artillery there.So how can you prove that this is just peaceful?

CUI: Well, I think that the fact is so clear. Who is sending military vessels there?

Who is sending the military planes there? It's not us. It's the United States.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Cui Tiankai, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

CUI: Thank you.

 

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