Chinese expert: freedom of navigation ≠ freedom of military operations in South China Sea

China Military Online
Huang Panyue

MUNICH, Feb. 22 (ChinaMil) -- Hundreds of government officials, experts and scholars from all over the world conducted in-depth discussions of various security threats under the new international security situation at the 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC) from Feb. 16 to 18, 2018.

Experts from the Chinese delegation at the three-day event were interviewed by reporters on hot topics such as the South China Sea issue and they refuted some countries' misinterpretation of the relevant international law.

The conference included a panel discussion on the South China Sea issue, which China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have been committed to properly solving since the signing of the draft South China Sea code of conduct.

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Security Cooperation Center of the International Military Cooperation Office of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, explained how some countries’ have misinterpreted the international law.

“First of all, we must abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," Zhou said. "But the problem now is that some countries unilaterally and wrongly interpreted the 'freedom of navigation' of the UNCLOS as the ‘freedom of military operations’, which is not the principle set by the UNCLOS,” Zhou noted.

Zhou said that the South China Sea issue is a dispute between China and some ASEAN countries and therefore it should be resolved through peaceful means by joint efforts of China and those countries.

Zhou also stressed that China and the ASEAN will strengthen close mutual consultations on the South China Sea issue, and he believed that it will eventually be solved through the joint efforts.


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