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Wang Yi Laid Out Three Basic Facts of the Issue of the South China Sea


On 9 September 2020, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the 10th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Regarding the various US smears against China's position, Wang Yi laid out three basic facts.

First, China's sovereignty and sovereign rights over the South China Sea Islands have solid historical and legal grounds. Under international law, UNCLOS included, the historic rights of countries should be respected. China's claims have been consistent. They have not changed, and will not change. They have not expanded, yet nor will they contract.

The allegation that China claims all waters within the dotted line as its internal waters and territorial sea is totally unfounded. It is a deliberate attempt to confuse different concepts and distort China's position.

Second, China follows a policy of pursuing amity and friendship with its neighbors, and has been working to play a constructive role on the South China Sea issue.

As early as in 2002, China signed the DOC with ASEAN countries, committing to resolve disputes by peaceful means, through dialogue and consultation by parties directly concerned, and not to conduct activities that would complicate or escalate the situation, or resort to the threat or use of force.

China has actively advanced consultations on the COC. We wish to develop a set of substantive and effective rules, to provide a stronger underpinning for peace in the South China Sea.

We have persistently called for "pursuing joint development while setting aside disputes". Under this framework, we recognize the energy needs of other littoral states, and are ready to seek win-win and all-win.

China's construction activities on some islands and reefs in the past few years are both to improve the living conditions there, as public goods for the South China Sea, and to meet the need of safeguarding China's own security.

Faced with the rising military pressure from non-regional countries, we certainly have the right of self-preservation as a sovereign state.

Third, China is committed to observing international law, UNCLOS included. China was an important contributor to the conclusion of UNCLOS. After the Convention entered into force, there appeared overlapping claims to maritime rights and interests. We maintain that parties, without prejudice to their positions, seek acceptable solutions through diplomatic dialogue and consultation in accordance with law.

As for disputes over maritime delimitation, the Chinese government has issued a policy statement in 2006, excluding the disputes from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures under relevant UNCLOS provisions.

China's refusal to accept or participate in an arbitration conducted without the consent of parties concerned is totally justified and has full legal basis.

Wang added that East Asia has long been seen worldwide as a promising region. China stands ready to work with other countries in the region to continue to properly manage maritime disputes by tapping into Oriental wisdom. He called on all countries concerned to firmly dispel external disturbances, uphold freedom of navigation in accordance with law and actively conduct maritime cooperation to create enabling conditions for enduring peace and stability in East Asia.

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