The following is a letter from Mr. He Rulong, Spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in London to Financial Times ' Letters' Editor, which was carried in the print and online editions of Financial Times on 12 June under the title "Bilateral talks are way forward for South China Sea".
Your newspaper carried on 30 May an article by David Pilling The Philippines is right to challenge China. I find this article unacceptable.
The essence of the South China Sea issue is the disputes over territorial sovereignty caused by the illegal occupation of China’s Nansha Islands by some littoral countries and overlapping claims to some waters in the South China Sea.
A close study of the issue will clearly show that China is a victim of this issue, rather than a trouble maker. China has long maintained that the related countries should bear in mind the overall interests of regional peace and stability and find ways to properly manage and resolve the disputes through bilateral negotiation and dialogue while fully respecting historical facts and international law. China also believes that pending a final solution all related parties should refrain from taking any actions to expand and further complicated the disputes.
The China-Philippines dispute over South China Sea is no exception. China is always committed to resolving the dispute through bilateral negotiation and consultation with the Philippines. In fact through bilateral negotiation and consultation, China and Philippines for a long time effectively kept the dispute under control and managed to concentrate on bilateral practical cooperation to the benefit of the people in both countries.
All signatories to the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) have agreed to resolve disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests through negotiations between directly related sovereign states. This is also the commitment made by the Philippines as one of the signatories. The DOC should be implemented in full and in good faith.
However, in disregard of China’s position and its own commitment, the Philippines has put the dispute to international arbitration. This move has breached the consensus established in the DOC by the countries in the region. It also runs counter to the overriding trend of regional peace, development and cooperation. It is neither popular nor valid.
It is the shared aspiration of majority countries in the region to achieve lasting stability and common prosperity. Common security and common development through dialogue and cooperation is the only workable way to achieve lasting peace and stability in South China Sea.
Recently China and ASEAN countries held a joint working group meeting in Bangkok on implementing the DOC. Good progress was made at the meeting on strengthening cooperation in the framework of the DOC. It is counterproductive that while countries in the region work together to maintain stability in the South China Sea through closer exchanges and cooperation, someone is writing to openly claim that ‘The Philippines is right to challenge China’. We can not but wonder about the purpose of these people. Do they really want safe and secure shipping lanes in the South China Sea? Do they genuinely hope for peace and development in Asia? The instigations in the article will only make the situation more complicated, therefore undesirable.
China is firm in its pursuit of peaceful development. We are also determined to safeguard territorial sovereignty and lawful rights and interests, while maintaining an amicable and stable neighborhood. We hope all related parties will work with us toward the same goal.
He Rulong, Spokesman, Chinese Embassy, London, UK