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U.S. military actions in S. China Sea can only have effect of militarizing region: Chinese ambassador

Editor: Zhang Pengfei 丨Xinhua

05-20-2016 06:43 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

WASHINGTON, May 19 (Xinhua) -- If the U.S. government does not curb its acts of sending more warships and airplanes to South China Sea, it will only have the effect of militarizing the region, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai has said.

Cui issued the message in a recent speech to a reception banquet for the Leadership Forum held at the Annenberg Estate in California by the John L. Thornton China Center of the Brookings Institution.

The veteran diplomat expressed his concern about the situation in the South China Sea, especially the statements made by U.S. officials and actions taken by the American military that threaten to escalate tensions there.

He was commenting on the repeated operations in recent months by U.S. warships on excuse of exercising "freedom of navigation" in the adjacent waters of some Chinese islands and reefs.

"There have been assertions that the U.S. is against actions to militarize the South China Sea. But it is the United States that is sending more and more military vessels and airplanes there. Such deployments, if not curbed, can only have the effect of militarizing the region," Cui said.

He pointed out that the so-called freedom of navigation operations by the U.S. military were originally designed as a counter-measure against the freedom of navigation as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, because the U.S. believed that the Convention provisions would restrict freedom of movement of its navy around the world.

"What is more disturbing is that such statements and actions would most probably embolden some players to be even more aggressive and provocative," Cui said, referring to some claimants in the dispute such as the Philippines.

In the speech, the Chinese envoy addressed main challenges facing today's China-U.S. ties, especially the U.S. misunderstandings about China's policies, and accusations against China over its actions on issues such as the South China Sea.

"The relationship is stronger and more resilient than many people have realized. At the same time, this relationship now seems to be more difficult to manage than ever before," Cui said.

While there is growing evidence that the two countries are increasingly connected to each other, "there is also mounting worries that we might eventually clash with each other," the ambassador said.

Describing the current China-U.S. relationship as being at "another defining moment," Cui said that whether the two sides can make the right choices depends on three key factors, namely their visions of the world today, their perceptions of each other, and their wills and skills to manage differences while enhancing cooperation.

He emphasized that China's top priority is to accomplish the economic, social and political transformation for the modernization of the country, and that its foreign policy is first and foremost aimed at winning a peaceful external environment for it.

"In doing so, China has to deal with the U.S. and develop a positive and stable relationship with it," Cui said.

However, he said, China will do whatever it can to protect its interests and ask the U.S. to change the policies that hurt China's interests.

"But this is entirely different from challenging the American global position and trying to establish China's own dominance in the world," he continued.

The ambassador also refuted some prevailing perceptions in the U.S. about China, including the notion that China is promoting the Asian version of so-called Monroe Doctrine aimed at driving the U.S. out of the region.

"They see China's call for Asians to take up more responsibilities for Asian affairs as an attempt to drive the U.S. out of Asia, whereas China is simply saying no one else could solve Asian problems if we Asians fail to shoulder our own responsibilities," Cui said.

"The fact is that China consistently stands for open and inclusive regional cooperation," he added.

Another telling example of the U.S. misunderstanding of China's actions and policies is the South China Sea dispute, Cui said.

China is doing nothing more than maintaining and defending its long-standing and legitimate position on the South China Sea issue, but "it has been grossly misperceived as a strategic move by China to challenge U.S. dominance in the Pacific and the world."

"The world has changed. We need a new vision for our relationship based on recognition of the new realities in the world." Cui said. "China and the United States should form a new partnership to work together on today's global challenges."

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