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15 Jul, 2012

China: U.S. Sows Seeds Of Discord In South China Sea

(China Daily Editorial)

Beijing, 2012-07-13 — By calling for all parties to engage in talks to resolve the South China Sea disputes, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has once again demonstrated that the United States is trying to interfere in the maritime disputes that only involve China and a few members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In a news release to the East Asia Summit meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Thursday, Clinton said, “the nations of the region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threat, and without use of force.”

Such remarks are inappropriate and ill-intentioned.

The US, as a force from outside the region, is not in any position to tell countries in the region how to solve their differences.

In fact, all the parties concerned have long agreed to abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. They have also agreed to discuss a code of conduct to implement the declaration.

Foreign ministers from China and ASEAN countries reviewed progress in this regard and vowed to promote mutual understanding and trust during a meeting on Wednesday.

China has made it clear the South China Sea disputes should be solved at the bilateral level. Any attempt to engage third parties would further complicate the issue and disturb the process leading to peaceful solutions.

The ASEAN meetings are not appropriate venues to discuss the disputes. And the ASEAN meetings should not be distracted from far more important issues concerning regional peace and development.

The concerns Clinton expressed on Thursday about freedom of navigation, respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea are unfounded, and were simply raised to serve the US’ agenda. The navigational freedom that every country can enjoy in accordance with international law has been fully guaranteed and international trade through the South China Sea has never been impeded.

In their meeting later on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Clinton highlighted bilateral cooperation between China and the US in such areas as disaster relief and disease control. As Clinton has acknowledged, this is an important signal that the US and China not only can, but will work together in Asia as they have a convergence of interests in the Asia-Pacific.

However, the best way to realize their common interests in the region is through deepening cooperation, not widening gaps over issues such as the South China Sea.