Building-up of China's capabilities in the South China Sea serves the security, stability and freedom of navigation
2015/04/17

 

On April 16, Ambassador Cui Tiankai attended the International Conference on China-US cooperation in global security affairs, organized by National Institute for South China Sea Studies, in Washington DC. In his keynote speech, Ambassador Cui elaborated China's policy on South China Sea in a comprehensive manner.

Ambassador Cui said,China's position on South China Sea is clear and consistent over many decades. Our position has not changed and will not change. While we are determined to safeguard our sovereign and maritime rights, we also exercise best restraint in handling disputes with others. It would be totally unfair to ask China to give up its legitimate rights and give in to the unjustifiable demands of certain parties. Let there be no illusion that anyone could impose on China a unilateral "status quo", and let there be no illusion that anyone could repeatedly violate China's sovereignty without consequences.

Ambassador Cui said that China stands for peaceful settlement of disputes through diplomatic dialogue and negotiations. Together with ASEAN countries, China has proposed a "dual-track approach" on the issue of South China Sea. This approach is in line with norms of international law and relevant international practices and is supported by the overwhelming majority of ASEAN members. China and ASEAN countries share much larger common interests in overall regional stability and prosperity, the bonds that unite us are much stronger and longer-lasting than any possible difference between us.

On the maintenance and construction work that China is carrying out on some of the Nansha islands and reefs, Ambassador Cui reiterated that such work is well within China's sovereignty. The main purpose is to improve the functions of facilities there so as to provide services to ships of China, neighboring countries and other countries that sail across the South China Sea. Such services will include shelter for ships, navigation aid, search and rescue, marine meteorological observation, fishery service and many others. Emphasis will also be put on marine environment protection. Of course there will be defense facilities. This is only natural and necessary and they are purely for defensive purposes. If these facilities could not even defend themselves, how can they render service to others? If China could not safeguard its own sovereignty, how can it shoulder greater responsibilities for international stability? Therefore, building-up of China's capabilities in the South China Sea provides public goods to all and serves the interests of maintaining security, stability and freedom of navigation there.Emphasis will also be put on marine environment protection.

Ambassador Cui pointed out that all these must be seen and understood in the context of China's foreign policy and defense policy. China has an independent foreign policy of peace and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China has long been a strong advocate for international cooperation and a staunch force for world peace. Facts show that as China grows stronger, it is better able to take up greater international responsibilities and contribute more to regional and global stability. Anyone who shares our commitment to community building in the region shall have nothing to worry about.

On the United Nations Convention on Law of Sea (UNCLOS),Ambassador Cui said that China is one of the first countries to join and ratify the UNCLOS. China welcomes more countries, including the United States to join the UNCLOS. There are two things we have to make clear. First, the Convention is not intended to resolve territorial issues. This is quite clear in the preamble of the Convention itself. Second, the Convention does not give anyone the right to conduct intensive, close-range reconnaissance activities in other countries' Exclusive Economic Zone.

 

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