by Chen Shilei
BEIJING, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Those who are actually guilty themselves are strangely enough often the first ones to point fingers. It is regrettable that Uncle Sam has been acting this way regarding the South China Sea issue.
During his visit to Asia, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, on board an American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, said Thursday that most of the activities over the last year in the South China Sea were "perpetrated" by China and expressed his concerns "about Chinese behavior."
Carter's accusation against China is unreasonable, because in fact the United States is the "perpetrator" as it, under the guise of "safeguarding the freedom of navigation," has sent its warships again and again to the South China Sea and escalated tensions in the area.
In its latest muscle-flexing move in the South China Sea in late October, the U.S. warship USS Lassen entered waters near Zhubi Reef without the permission of the Chinese government.
Carter, who was in Malaysia for two days of talks with Asian defense ministers, also signaled that the United States will keep a strong naval presence in the region to support nations seeking to preserve stability.
The unreasonable interference of the United States -- not a party to the South China Sea issue -- in maritime disputes between China and some Asian countries will not only harm China-U.S. relations, but also threaten peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
In fact, China's stance on the South China Sea issue has its grounds.
Firstly, China's sovereignty and claims of rights over islands in the South China Sea have been formed in the long course of history and upheld by successive Chinese governments, and have an adequate and solid historical and legal basis.
Secondly, what China is doing on the South China Sea islands including construction activities on some garrisoned islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea is totally within its sovereignty. China's activities are lawful, reasonable and justified, and do not affect or target any other countries.
China, as a major country, is conducting construction activities on some South China Sea islands at a pace and with a scale befitting its international responsibilities and obligations in such fields as maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, navigation safety and fishery services in the South China Sea.
Thirdly, China respects other countries' freedom of navigation in accordance with international law. Any claims that China's activities will undermine "the freedom of aviation, the freedom of navigation and the orderly process of trade and global commerce" are unfounded.
China, a major stakeholder in the South China Sea, cares about the safety and freedom of navigation in the area more than any other countries including the United States, which is thousands of miles away from the area.
This is exactly why China's activities on its islands are aimed at facilitating a joint response to challenges on the sea and providing more guarantees for the safety of navigation.
On solving maritime disputes, China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have identified a "dual-track" approach on the South China Sea, which calls for solving disputes through negotiations and consultation directly between concerned parties, and asks China and ASEAN member states to work together to maintain peace and stability.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his ongoing visit to Vietnam, one of the countries that have maritime disputes with China, called on the two countries to properly handle their disputes.
China and Vietnam agreed to launch an inspection on the waters outside the mouth of the Beibu Gulf in December, said a joint communique released Friday.
The two sides also planned to steadily promote the negotiation of the demarcation of the waters outside the mouth of the Beibu Gulf, and actively foster the joint development of these waters, according to the document.
China's actions demonstrate the important responsibilities that a major country shoulders for safeguarding world peace and stability, which the United States should also bear.
Washington should be frank and forthright regarding the South China Sea issue and not let the issue damage its relations with China -- one of the most important bilateral ties in the world.