For order in South China Sea

By Jin Yongmin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, June 22, 2011
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Countries will always put forward arguments in their own favor, creating conflicts and disputes, and even take actions in pursuit of bigger interests. Worse, whether unilateral or joint actions of countries in the South China Seas have complicated, magnified or harmed regional peace and stability cannot be determined or judged.

For example, the joint war games held in the South China Sea, especially in the waters off the Nansha Islands, are against UNCLOS regulations, and their frequency and purpose have violated the goal of peaceful use of marine resources, which should be opposed.

For the resolution of the maritime disputes between China and some Southeast Asian nations, it is necessary that they clarify their claims, spell out their interests and positions, and hold dialogues.

And to oppose US-led military exercises and joint drills in the region, China should urge the international community to revise the UNCLOS and add specific regulations on military activities. This is important to safeguard common interests such as flights and ships. If international or regional regulations cannot be made specific, China should let its policies be known to the international community.

First, China should tell the international community clearly and confidently what its stand on the South China Sea issue is to ensure that other countries in the region do not misunderstand or misjudge it.

Second, China should stick to the principle of "joint development despite controversies" and despite setbacks. The urgent mission is to identify the controversial regions whose development is acceptable to all parties.

Third, the Chinese government has to set up a higher-level body on maritime issues that would coordinate among related departments to decide on joint actions. It should spell out its territorial "nine-dash" U-shaped baseline in the South China Sea, too, to solicit legal support.

China hopes to resolve the South China Sea disputes without exaggerating or magnifying them. The best way to do it is to establish and maintain mechanisms in the region, and ensure that order and stability in the South China Sea are not harmed and the common interest of the international community is not undermined.

The author is a law scholar with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Academy of Ocean of China.

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