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China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's comment on US Secretary of State's press statement on the South China Sea
2020/07/16

The US statement disregards the historical facts in the South China Sea and breaks the US government's public commitment of not taking a position on the South China Sea sovereignty issue. It violates and distorts international law, deliberately stokes territorial and maritime disputes, and undermines regional peace and stability. This is an irresponsible act.

In this statement, the US claims that China formally announced the dotted line in the South China Sea in 2009. That's not true. China's sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea have been established over the long course of history. China has effectively exercised jurisdiction over relevant islands, reefs and waters in the South China Sea for thousands of years. Back in 1948, the Chinese government officially published the dotted line with no other country raising any dispute for a very long period of time. China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are solidly grounded in history and law and consistent with relevant international law and practice.

China never seeks to build a "maritime empire" in the South China Sea. We always treat our South China Sea neighbors as equals and exercise maximum restraint when safeguarding our sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea. The US, on the contrary, refuses to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), cannot stop itself from withdrawing from one international treaty and organization after another, and only chooses to comply with international law when the occasion serves its own interests. It frequently dispatches large fleets of advanced military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to drive militarization. Its power politics logic and bullying behaviors demonstrate that the US is the real destroyer and trouble-maker upsetting peace and stability in the region. The international community can see this very clearly.

With regard to the South China Sea arbitration and the so-called Award, China's position is consistent, clear and firm. The Arbitral Tribunal violated the principle of state consent and exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires. There are obvious errors in fact finding and law application in the Award. And many countries have questioned this point. The US is hyping up the arbitration to serve its own political purposes, which is an abuse international maritime law. China will never accept it.

Pursuant to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and the ASEAN Member States in 2002, China is committed to resolving territorial and jurisdictional disputes through friendly consultations and negotiations with sovereign states directly concerned and to jointly maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. Currently, with the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN states, the situation in the South China Sea is basically stable. China and ASEAN nations are not only honoring the DOC, but also accelerating and advancing consultations on more binding Code of Conduct (COC) to jointly safeguard peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. There has been positive progress in relevant consultations. The relations between China and ASEAN members have been further strengthened and enhanced in our cooperation against COVID-19.

The US, as a country outside the region, wishes nothing but chaos in the South China Sea so that it can gain from the muddied waters. To this end, it goes to great lengths to stoke trouble and sow discord between China and other regional countries, thwarting and undermining efforts by China and ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability. The US statement also deliberately warped the Chinese delegate's remarks at the 2010 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Meeting. To get facts straight, what the Chinese delegate said at the meeting was that China always holds that countries, big or small, are all equals; relevant disputes should be resolved peacefully through negotiation and consultation by parties directly concerned based on the merits of the issue. The US will never succeed in driving a wedge among regional countries.

We strongly deplore and firmly oppose the wrong move by the US and urge it to stop stirring up trouble on the South China Sea and stop going further down the wrong path. China will always firmly defend its sovereignty and security, safeguard friendly cooperative relations with regional countries, and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

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