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People's Daily Online

Commentary: Western speculation will never shake China's determination in the South China Sea

People's Daily Online

By Hua Yiwen (People's Daily Online) 10:47, May 09, 2016

In recent days, more than 10 countries have shown their support for China's proposition of peacefully resolving the South China Sea dispute through negotiations between the countries directly concerned.

The countries that have shown their solidarity with China include not only ASEAN members like Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Myanmar, but also neighboring countries such as Russia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan, and even European and African countries such as Poland, Belarus and Gambia.

The statements from these countries are of special significance, coming as they do as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague prepares to announce the result of the so-called "South China Sea arbitration" that was unilaterally filed by the Philippines.

After the Philippines filed the arbitration, the U.S., Japan and several other Western countries echoed their stance. U.S. government and media, in particular, have been making a big deal over the case, requesting that China adhere to the outcome. At one point, the U.S. government even claimed that the arbitration result would be legally binding for China.

Given that the arbitration was unilaterally submitted by the Philippines despite China's opposition, it constitutes a flagrant violation of the compulsory dispute settlement procedures under the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In addition, by requesting the arbitration, the Philippines is attempting to cover its illegal occupation of China's Nansha Islands and deprive China of its sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea.

In order to achieve this goal, the Philippines has drummed up sympathy from the international community by labeling itself as the weak victim to China's supposed "bully." At the same time, by vocally supporting the single-sided arbitration, the U.S. and Japan are interfering in regional affairs in the South China Sea for no valid reason. They are trying to defame China's image and suppress China's regional influence, all in pursuit of their own strategic interests.

In recent days, South China Sea buzzwords like "freedom of navigation," "militarization," "international law," "arbitration," "expansion" and "aggression" have been repeatedly mentioned by the Japanese and U.S. government and media. Both countries are attempting to make China the scapegoat for tension in the South China Sea. Of course, it is also an attempt by the U.S. to further its strategy of "Asia-Pacific Rebalance" by interfering in regional affairs.

The U.S. and Japan have never hidden their ultimate ambition when it comes to the South China Sea. Once the arbitration goes in favor of the Philippines, it's easy to imagine that these countries will jump on the opportunity to start another round of speculation.

The actions of the U.S. and Japan will not bring peace and stability to the South China Sea, but will only escalate the conflict, which harms regional cooperation. China will not accept or participate in the arbitration, and the result of the arbitration will never shake China's sovereignty. The Philippines will eventually have no choice but to return to equitable negotiation and dialogue.

The truth of the matter is, most ASEAN countries recognize the validity of China's stance, and disputes over the Nansha Islands should not affect the relationship between China and ASEAN member countries. Together, through dialogue and consultation between the parties directly concerned, China and the ASEAN countries are capable of safeguarding the security and stability of the region.

The nature of the South China Sea issue and the cooperation between China and ASEAN countries will never be changed by the opinions of the U.S. or other countries. Neither will those opinions deter China from maintaining sovereignty and stability in the South China Sea.

Confucius said: "Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors." China is a righteous country, and its stance on this issue will not change, no matter the tide of international opinion.

(The author is an expert on international affairs.)

This article was edited and translated from 人民日报海外版:西方舆论改变不了南海问题本质



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