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Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui Refutes Sternly the United States (US) on the South China Sea Issue and Other Issues

2020/07/21

On July 20, 2020, the East Asia Summit Senior Officials’ Meeting (EAS SOM) was held via videolink. Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui attended the meeting.

Luo Zhaohui said, this year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the EAS. The COVID-19 is a huge new challenge to the current world. As an important platform for dialogue and cooperation for countries inside and outside the region, the EAS should play its due role in overcoming the once-in-a-century epidemic. We should continue to share our experience in epidemic prevention and treatment, strengthen cooperation in drug and vaccine research and development, support the World Health Organization in leveraging its role, and firmly oppose politicizing the epidemic or labeling the virus. We need to develop “fast lanes” for personnel exchanges and “green channels” for goods circulation, build a regional network of “fast lanes”, and ensure the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement within this year. We should adhere to the EAS’s positioning as a “leaders-led strategic forum”, conform to the aspirations of regional countries for peaceful development, uphold multilateralism, resist unilateralism and power politics, and play an important role in ensuring regional stability and development.

Luo Zhaohui sternly refuted the unreasonable accusations made by the United States (US) and some Western countries on the South China Sea issue, saying that China is a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has always abided by it. The US refuses to accede to the UNCLOS and is unwilling to assume its relevant obligations, yet it attacks other countries on every possible occasion under the guise of safeguarding the UNCLOS. The South China Sea arbitration case violates the basic principle of international law of “state consent” and is unilaterally imposed on the Chinese side without its participation. The Chinese side will not accept nor recognize this illegal arbitration. Luo Zhaohui reviewed the history of the South China Sea issue, and pointed out that it is an indisputable fact that the Chinese side has sovereignty and related rights over the South China Sea. The Chinese side’s proposal of pursuing joint development while shelving disputes, the conclusion of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea and the launch of consultations on a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea with countries of the Association Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) fully demonstrate the Chinese side’s sincerity in resolving differences and disputes with relevant ASEAN countries through friendly consultations.

Luo Zhaohui said, compared with the friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, the US is the troublemaker in the region. Against the backdrop of the US comprehensive containment of China and its “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, the US government issued a statement on the South China Sea last week, and officials of the US State Department made relevant remarks. Such moves blatantly violated the US commitment of not taking a position on the South China Sea sovereignty issue and maliciously attacked China’s COC consultations with ASEAN countries and joint development with the countries concerned in the South China Sea. The US side has also sent a number of aircraft carriers and warships to conduct military exercises in the South China Sea. These moves will only make China-US relations more difficult and exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea. The US side should bear the full responsibility. The Chinese side will not yield to external pressure.

Luo Zhaohui said, the US instigated relations between China and ASEAN countries and forced ASEAN countries to take sides, which would further complicate the South China Sea issue and interfere with the COC process between China and ASEAN countries. We believe that ASEAN countries will adhere to an independent foreign policy. The Chinese side is ready to work with ASEAN countries to continue to fully implement the DOC, and push for the early conclusion of the COC consultations in a bid to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

In response to the unreasonable accusations made by the US and some Western countries against national security legislation for Hong Kong, Luo Zhaohui stressed, Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong. The violence in Hong Kong lasted more than a year, and no country can tolerate a situation that lasts for such a long period. The purpose of enacting the law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR is to ensure long-term peace and stability in Hong Kong and ensure the stable and long-term run of the “one country, two systems”. The legislation targets a few criminals but protect vast majority. This is conducive to safeguarding the interests of regional countries in Hong Kong and promoting Hong Kong’s overall cooperation with all parties and its long-term development. The international community should be supportive rather than making accusations.

Russia and most Southeast Asian countries support the Chinese side’s stance on the South China Sea issue, support “one country, two systems” and national security legislation for Hong Kong, and oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

All parties agreed that the EAS should adhere to the positioning of “leaders-led strategic forum” and play a greater role in the ASEAN-led East Asia cooperation mechanism, enhance strategic mutual trust among all parties, deepen practical cooperation, actively respond to regional challenges and safeguard regional peace and development. All parties also exchanged views on the future priorities of EAS cooperation as well as international and regional topics of common interest.

The EAS, launched in 2005 and held by the ASEAN rotating chair, has 18 countries member states, including 10 ASEAN countries as well as China, Russia, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

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