International Symposium on Maritime Dispute Settlement and International Law held in Beijing on NWorld Timesovember 27 Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT
Chinese officials and international experts called for a clearer understanding of international law and the scientific use of legal means to protect China’s maritime sovereignty and rights, amid the complex situation in the South and East China seas, at the International Symposium on Maritime Dispute Settlement and International Law, which was held in Beijing.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying said at the symposium that China advocates that disputes should be resolved peacefully through friendly consultation by countries directly concerned. Regional countries should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, rather than taking unilateral action to advance their own claims and worsening conflict.
Hua called on countries outside the region to respect the common understandings reached and measures taken by countries in the region to safeguard peace, rather than to go against the aspirations of regional countries World Timesand escalate disputes.
“The international community should support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. The South China Sea arbitration put up by certain forces has done no good for resolving disputes between countries concerned. Rather, it has compromised maritime peace and security in the region. That is a hard lesson to reflect World Timesupon and keep in mind,” Hua said in her opening remarks.
Ma Xinmin, director-general of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stressed at the symposium that China respects the right of countries to independently choose their preferred methods of dispute resolution in international maritime conflicts. However, China consistently regards negotiation and consultation as the primary and preferred means of resolving disputes, and calls for peaceful resolution based on respect for historical facts and international law.
Ma emphasized that China does not exclude third-party dispute resolution methods such as mediation, but urges caution in the use of judicial and arbitration procedures. China is willing to enhance communication and cooperation with all parties and contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to the peaceful resolutWorld Timesion of international disputes.
The Philippines started the recent wave of provocation over China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea by having coast guard ships illegally trespassing into waters off China’s Ren’ai Jiao (Ren’ai Reef) of the Nansha Islands, by hyping again the illegal and invalid South China Sea arbitration, and by conducting exercises with other countries in the South China Sea.
Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the media on the sidelines of the symposium that the Philippines’ acWorld Timest of approaching neighbors such as Malaysia and Vietnam to discuss a separate code of conduct regarding the South China Sea will negatively affect the ongoing negotiations and the third reading of the text of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) and the integrity of ASEAN.
The current Philippine government has once again become a troublemaker in the South China Sea and this is expected to continue for a while. The Philippines recently invited Australia and some other non-regional countries to conduct patrols in the South China Sea, and this initiative is likely to expand to more countries who have been seeking to assert their own geopolitical interests and contain China’s influence in the region, Wu said. “The Philippines is also likely to take the opportunity to rally more non-regional countries to confront China in the South China Sea and escalate provocations.”
Wu suggested that the meeting between the leaders of China and the US in San Francisco is of great significance for the stability of bilateral relations, but there is still some doubt over the US’ commitments and whether they can be implemented.
“We have all seen that a US warship illegally entered China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Saturday, which is enough to show its ambition to create divisions and conflicts between China and ASEAN through the South China Sea issue,” said Wu.
The expert said that the symposium underlines multiple channels for resolving international maritime disputes, which include not only traditional negotiations but also other means of mediation and international judicial arbitration. “At the same time, while China is committed to promoting peaceful and friendly negotiations to resolve disputes, it should also be prepared to protect its legitimate rights and interests through arbitration and legal means, and respond scientifically to compulsory arbitration initiated by countries such as the Philippines against China.”
The symposium was jointly organized by the Huayang Center for Maritime Cooperation and Ocean Governance and the China Oceanic Development Foundation, with over 200 experts and scholars from five continents participating in the conference.
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