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"Dnevnik" publishes article on the South China Sea issue written by Ambassador Wen Zhenshun

(From Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Macedonia)

2016/05/21

On 21th May 2016, the Macedonian daily newspaper "Dnevnik" published an article written by Mr. Wen Zhenshun, Ambassador of People's Republic of China to the Republic of Macedonia "The Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights of China in South China Sea Are Not Allowed to be Violated".

The English translation of the article is as follows:

Recently, the situation on the South China Sea is continuously heating up. The frequent interventions of some countries outside the South China Sea have caused the attentions and concerns from international community towards the peace and stability of this region. Hereby I would like to introduce to the dear fellow readers about the South China Sea issue, to let you have an objective understanding about its history, current situation and the position of the Chinese government.

The South China Sea Islands has been China's territory since ancient times. The Chinese people were the first to discover, name and develop these islands. It was the Chinese government that first exercised sovereignty over them, a practice that has been continued in peaceful and effective manner without interruption.

In 1939, Japan invaded and illegally occupied Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands during the war of aggression against China. After World War II, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation, the Chinese territories Japan had stolen, including Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands, were restored to China. After recovering the Nansha Islands, China reaffirmed sovereignty and strengthened jurisdiction by compiling their official names, publishing maps, setting up administrative units and stationing troops. Before 1970s, it was widely recognized by the international community that the South China Sea Islands belong to China and no country ever challenged this.

Since the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, the Philippines and other countries surrounding started the illegal occupation of the islands and reefs of the South China Sea continuously. Based on the argument that the Nansha Islands are located within their 200 nautical mile zone, they tried to deny China's sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands with their claim for maritime jurisdiction. They mixed the two different nature of the disputes , in order to confuse the public opinions of the international community. Thus China became a victim on the South China Sea issue. Nonetheless, in order to uphold regional peace and stability, while keep addressing the sovereignty belongs to China, the Chinese side has all along exercised great restraint, committed itself to resolving the relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations and been against any words or actions that would intensify or expand the disputes in the South China Sea.

In 2013, the Philippines unilaterally referred the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Den Haag (PCA) for sovereignty arbitration. This act violated not only the agreement about solving South China Sea issue through negotiations, which was reached in the bilateral documents between China and Philippines as well as in the the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), but also the rules of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) by abusing its procedures of settling disputes, which undermined China, as States Party to Convention, enjoying free choice of dispute settlement mechanisms and procedures. Thus this kind of act is illegal and invalid. Despite the widespread recognition that the territorial issues shall be mediated according to general international law and doesn't concern the interpretation or application of the UNCLOS, and the fact that China and Philippines already started to solve the dispute through negotiations, the PCA still exercises its jurisdiction over this case by force, put its hand to territorial and maritime delimitation issues, which is beyond its jurisdiction. This not only violated the principle of solving international disputes peacefully, severely damaged the international rule of law, but also was counterproductive for the peace and stability in the South China Sea by intensifying the contradictions. This kind of arbitration has no basis of international law, thus is not compulsory by itself, let alone the factors of manipulations by the countries outside the South China Sea. The Chinese government does not accept, participate, recognize or execute the so called "award" of the arbitration. The Chinese side also hopes the international community will have a clear understanding of this issue and not be confused by the illusion.

China has the willingness and capacity to resolve the territorial and maritime disputes through consultations and negotiations. Based on this good practice , China has signed border treaties with 12 out of 14 land neighbors with over 20,000 kilometers of delineated and demarcated boarders. After more than 20 years of negotiations, China and Vietnam completed the delimitation of maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf. On the South China Sea issue, we are also committed to resolving the disputes in a peaceful manner, to managing the disputes by establishing rules and mechanisms, to seeking win-win outcomes through joint development and cooperation, and to upholding freedom of navigation and overflight as well as peace and stability in South China Sea. In the past decade since the conclusion of DOC in 2002, China and ASEAN countries have work tirelessly to uphold peace and stability of the South China Sea.

China and Philippines are unmovable neighbours for each other. The only correct way of solving the dispute on South China Sea is by insisting on negotiations and consultations by the two direct parties, without intervention from any third party, on the basis of respect for the historical facts and in accordance with the international law, until a mutually acceptable solution is reached.

South China Sea is currently one of the safest and freest channels in the world. The so called problem of free navigation is completely sensationalization by some countries with ulterior motives. Out of self-interest, some countries outside of the China South Sea delayed joining the UNCLOS, but sent military vessels and air planes to approach the territorial waters of other country to provoke under the guise of free navigation, undermining inter-state relations in the region, creating tension in South China Sea. They want to muddy the waters in the South China Sea and to destabilize Asia. China will not agree to it and the majority of countries in Asia will not allow that to happen. We hope the countries outside the South China Sea as a third party can abide to their previous commitments about not taking sides, earnestly respect the efforts of the countries in this region for maintaining the peace and stability of South China Sea, play a more constructive role, conduct less provocative actions.

Some people are pointing fingers at Chinese construction work on certain reefs in the Nansha Islands, even impling about the possible "militarizing" South China Sea. But as a matter of fact, in recent years, the Chinese side has built up lighthouses, communication facilities for maritime safety, emergency rescue, providing shelter and supplies for the ships passing by, weather stations and marine research center, all of these are aimed at better fulfilling China's international responsibility and obligations in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, ecological protection, safety of navigation and other aspects. China is doing on its own territory a cause that benefit its own as well as other people, by no means China can be accused of "militarizing" South China Sea.

China steadfastly adheres to the road of peaceful development, pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. We sincerely hope all parties could focus on increasing trust, managing crisis, promoting cooperation and resolving the South China Sea disputes through peaceful negotiations and uphold for a long time the peace and prosperity of the South China Sea.

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