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Commentary: China not alone in South China Sea issue

Editor: zhenglimin 丨Xinhua

07-19-2016 20:31 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) -- As the Chinese government and people's stance on the South China Sea issue wins increasing support worldwide despite the so-called arbitration initiated by the Philippines, the expectation of isolating China has proved unrealistic.

Domestically, China's legislature, non-government organizations, citizens and media outlets have overwhelmingly backed the government's rejection of the arbitration award and call for negotiation and consultation between the states directly concerned to resolve disputes.

In addition to the outcry on the Chinese mainland, Taiwan has also said it "absolutely will not accept" the decision in the South China Sea arbitration. The island's leader's office said the award "is not legally binding."

Internationally, a wider range of nations, including members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have voiced their recognition of China's position.

The 11th Asia-Europe Meeting last week became one of the latest arenas where China's arguments gained traction.

Thongloun Sisoulith, prime minister of Laos, which holds ASEAN's rotating chairmanship this year, said that Laos supports China's stance over the South China Sea issue, and stands ready to work with China to maintain peace and stability in the region.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said his nation respects China's position on the arbitration, adding the disputes should be solved peacefully through negotiations.

Russia opposes the internationalization of the South China Sea disputes or any interference by forces outside the region, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Notably, the attempt by Japan, a country not directly involved in the South China Sea, to include the arbitration case into the chair's statement of the summit was defeated, according to a Chinese diplomat.

China has clarified the merits of its stance, but the country's proven track record in resolving disputes concerning territory and maritime rights and interests with neighboring countries through negotiations and consultations is more convincing.

China borders 14 countries on land and has a land boundary of about 22,000 km. China has signed border treaties with 12 land neighbors, with over 20,000 km of delineated and demarcated borderlines.

After more than 20 years of negotiations, 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.

In the case of the South China Sea, "friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned" were the form of resolution agreed upon in case of territorial and jurisdictional disputes in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and ASEAN member states in 2002.

Encouraged by the governments of China, the Philippines and Vietnam, oil companies in the region signed the tripartite Agreement for Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in Certain Areas in the South China Sea in 2005 to facilitate joint oil and gas development.

If history is any indication, China is a reasonable partner in such matters. Negotiations and consultations can best represent the principle of equality among sovereign states and are the most effective way to settle disputes.

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