Commentary: No more fuss about free navigation in South China Sea

Source: XinhuaEditor: Zhang Tao
2015-11-14 18:49

BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Exchanges of blame in past months have drawn attention to the South China Sea. At least one thing is now certain: There is no issue with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

The undeniable fact is that there has never been any problem with free navigation in the region. And there will be no issue in the future as countries in the region, including China, value peace on the sea routes, which are a lifeline for their economies.

"There are over 100,000 ships from countries around the world sailing safely and freely through the South China Sea every year," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying. "They don't run into any problems at all."

A few Western politicians have tried to portray China as a country that will obstruct free navigation in the South China Sea. That's a serious accusation, and utterly untrue.

It should be noted that China has openly stated on numerous occasions that it respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea that all countries enjoy under international law.

In an address at the National University of Singapore on Nov. 7, Chinese President Xi Jinping explained China's position, stressing that China needs unimpeded passage in the South China Sea more than any other country.

No country in the region attempts to obstruct free navigation in the South China Sea. There is no need to worry about that.

Meanwhile, China's rights and interests in the South China Sea, backed by abundant historical evidence, should be respected. Using freedom of navigation and flight as an excuse to damage China's sovereignty and security is an unwise and dangerous move.

There is also no need to worry about China's intentions and actions in the South China Sea.

Despite its rapid rise, China has been cautiously treading a path of peaceful development and making the utmost efforts to avoid conflicts, fully aware of the importance of peace to its development. This is a country that pursues a defence policy that is defensive in nature and has declared many times that it will never seek hegemony, engage in expansion or impose its own will on others.

People in China firmly believe that the islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been Chinese territory since ancient times. The actions China has taken in the South China Sea are legitimate reactions to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.

In a written interview with Reuters, Chinese President Xi Jinping said: "Expansionism refers to laying claims to land outside one's own territory. China has never done anything like that, so such doubts or accusations are unwarranted."

Compared with big powers in history, China has been rather restrained and rational in dealing with disputes. The country treasures good relations with other countries, especially its neighbors.

As Chinese people see it, some Chinese islands in the South China Sea have been illegally occupied by others. Even so, the Chinese government has always insisted on settling disputes through peaceful means, with peace and stability being the starting points and the objectives of China's South China Sea policy.

In practice, China has been actively holding talks with countries in the region on how to manage disputes through institutionalized dialogue and peacefully resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation. It also actively seeks results through cooperation and joint development.

There has been much progress in this respect, and with joint efforts from all parties, the situation in the South China Sea has been stable on the whole.

China has solved territorial disputes with many countries peacefully in recent years. Believe it, China can do it again.

by Xinhua writer Tian Sulei

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