Territorial disputes: South China Sea (Part 3) [Post 118]

China’s position about the South China Sea       

The literature about the South China Sea often comes from Western authors and media. But, what is China’s position about the South China Sea?A set of documents brings light to the question. In brief:

Statement of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on China’s Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights and Interests in the South China Sea (07/12/2016)

To reaffirm China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, enhance cooperation in the South China Sea with other countries, and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, the Government of the People’s Republic of China hereby states as follows:I. China’s Nanhai Zhudao (the South China Sea Islands) consist of Dongsha Qundao (the Dongsha Islands), Xisha Qundao (the Xisha Islands), Zhongsha Qundao (the Zhongsha Islands) and Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands). The activities of the Chinese people in the South China Sea date back to over 2,000 years ago.” […]

V. China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all states under international law in the South China Sea, and stays ready to work with other coastal states and the international community to ensure the safety of and the unimpeded access to the international shipping lanes in the South China Sea.”

Complete document Link to the complete document

China Adheres to the Position of Settling Through Negotiation the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea (13/07/2016)

vi. On jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea.
140. China maintains that peace and stability in the South China Sea should be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN Member States.

141. China pursues peaceful development and adheres to a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China champions a new security vision featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and pursues a foreign policy of building friendship and partnership with its neighbors and of fostering an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood based on the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. China is a staunch force for upholding peace and stability and advancing cooperation and development in the South China Sea. China is committed to strengthening good-neighborliness and promoting practical cooperation with its neighbors and regional organizations including ASEAN to deliver mutual benefit.

142. The South China Sea is a bridge of communication and a bond of peace, friendship, cooperation and development between China and its neighbors. Peace and stability in the South China Sea is vital to the security, development and prosperity of the countries and the well-being of the people in the region. To realize peace, stability, prosperity and development in the South China Sea region is the shared aspiration and responsibility of China and ASEAN Member States, and serves the common interests of all countries.143. China will continue to make unremitting efforts to achieve this goal.”

Complete document Link to the complete document

Wang Yi Talks about How China Views Joint Communiqué of ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (08/08/2017)

On August 7, 2017 local time, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the briefing for Chinese and foreign media held after the series of Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on East Asia Cooperation in Manila, the Philippines.”[…]

Wang Yi expressed that some media may be concerned about the statement of the South China Sea in the Joint Communiqué of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. There is a statement on this issue in the Joint Communiqué every year, yet this year some differences have been presented. First, the length of descriptions is much shorter than that of the past. Second, the ten ASEAN countries all fully affirmed the results of cooperation with China and the stable situation in the South China Sea. They also fully affirmed to develop and approve the “Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” (COC) framework with China and made clear to take an active attitude of promoting the specific drafts in the next step.Wang Yi said that perhaps some media friends would wonder why there are still descriptions of “sea-filling for land-reclamation” in the Joint Communiqué. I would like to tell you that the Joint Communiqué of this year makes it quite clear in this part. However, still “some foreign ministers” expressed concerns about the “sea-filling for land-reclamation”, indicating that there is no consensus of all ASEAN countries. In fact, one or two countries expressed this kind of concern and what I would like to inform everyone is that China has completed our land-filling two years ago. Thus, if such phenomenon of sea-filling for land-reclamation still exists, it will never happen in China.Wang Yi said that the statement on “non-militarization” in the Communiqué is not the same as the past either. This year, it is about “all countries”, including the restraint of both the inner-domain and the areas outside the domain. All of us can have a thought on this matter: Among all countries, which one is the most powerful and the most dynamic to show its military power in the region? I think the answer is known to all.”

Complete document Link to the complete document


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.


South China Sea and the media.

Thursday 09th July 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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