China should be on guard against Philippines' 'plot'

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail People's Daily, July 5, 2012
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A spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on July 1 that the armed forces will work together with the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure the safety of Philippine fishermen returning to the disputed Huangyan Island waters. With the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Foreign Ministers' Meeting right around the corner, the Philippines is sparing no effort to stir up the South China Sea issue through all sorts of means, and China should be on guard against its plot.

The Huangyan Island [file photo]

The Huangyan Island [file photo] 

In recent years, a few countries such as the Philippines have been taking advantage of the annual ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting to stoke tensions over the South China Sea issue. One of the main reasons is that the summit is attended by the representatives of ASEAN member states and also senior diplomats from dialogue partners such as China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

The United States said in a regional meeting in Hanoi in 2010 that territorial disputes in the South China Sea had a bearing on U.S. national interests, indicating its interest in intervening in the South China Sea issue. Tensions have been rising over the issue. During the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, in 2011, the Philippines once more put forward an unpractical proposal for resolving the South China Sea issue, which broke an agreement between ASEAN and China, and disturbed the original agenda of the summit.

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting is not the right platform to discuss the South China Sea issue. China and ASEAN have many issues concerning mutual cooperation and development to resolve through negotiations. It would be unwise to discuss the South China Sea issue at the summit while shelving other major issues.

China and ASEAN have carried out fruitful and deep cooperation in recent years. Many ASEAN countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, have benefited much from China's rapid development. Cooperation is the mainstream of China-ASEAN relations, and the South China Sea issue is just a bilateral issue between China and certain ASEAN member states. The Philippines' move runs counter to the common interest of ASEAN, and will not be echoed by many other countries.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China has abided by the principles established in the declaration, maintained close contact with ASEAN countries, and actively explored regional cooperation opportunities. In order to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, China advocates that the South China Sea issue should only be resolved through peaceful talks between claimants, and opposes internationalization of the issue or any outside intervention.

China's cherishing of regional peace and stability as well as good intentions of giving top priority to common interest should not be seen as weakness or as yielding. Turning the South China Sea into a real sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation serves the interests of both China and ASEAN, and requires the practical efforts of all parties concerned.

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