Basic Stance and Policy of the Chinese Government in Solving the South China Sea Issue
2004/04/08

The Chinese Government has always stood for negotiated settlement of international disputes through peaceful means. In this spirit, China has solved questions regarding territory and border with some neighboring countries through bilateral consultations and negotiations in an equitable, reasonable and amicable manner. This position also applies to the Nansha Islands. China is committed to working with the countries concerned for proper settlement of the disputes related to the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations in accordance with the universally-recognized international law and the contemporary law of the sea, including the fundamental principles and legal regimes set forth in the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This was explicitly written into the Joint Statement issued at the China-ASEAN informal summit in 1997. The Chinese Government has also put forward the proposition of "shelving disputes and going in for joint development". China is ready to shelve the disputes for the time being and conduct cooperation with the countries concerned pending settlement of the disputes. This is not only what China stands for but also what China does. In Recent years, China has on many occasions had consultations and exchanged views on the question of the South China Sea with the countries concerned, and a broad identity of views has been reached. The bilateral consultation mechanisms between China and the Philippines, Viet Nam and Malaysia respectively are in effective operation, and positive progress has been made to varying degrees in the dialogues. At China-ASEAN Senior Officials Meetings(SOM) and China-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conferences(PMC), too, the two sides have had candid exchange of views on the South China Sea question, and agreed to seek and appropriate solution to the problem by peaceful means and through friendly consultations.

China maintains that all the parties concerned should adopt a restrained, calm and constructive approach on the question of the Nansha Islands. In recent years, countries like Viet Nam and the Philippines have sent troops to seize some uninhabited islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands, destroyed the marks of sovereignty erected by China there, and arrested, detained or driven away by force Chinese fishermen fishing in the South China Sea. On this question, the Chinese side has always persisted in having discussions and settling relevant problems with the countries concerned through diplomatic channels and by peaceful means. It fully testifies to China's sincerity in preserving regional stability and the overall interests of bilateral friendly relations.

China attaches great importance to the safety and unimpededness of the international water lanes in the South China Sea. Its efforts to safeguard its sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and maritime rights and interests do not affect the freedom of the passage foreign vessels and aircraft enjoy in accordance with international law. In fact, China has never interfered with the freedom of passage of foreign vessels and aircraft in this area, nor will it ever do so in the future. China is ready to work together with the littoral states of the South China Sea to safeguard the safety the international water lanes in the area of the South China Sea.

The question of the South China Sea is a question between China and the relevant countries. The Chinese Government has consistently advocated settlement of the disputes between China and the countries concerned through amicable bilateral consultations. Involvement by any external force is undesirable and will only further complicate the situation. China and the countries concerned are fully capable and confident of handling their disputes appropriately. Peace and tranquility in the South China Sea area can be maintained on a long-term basis. At present, there is no crisis at all in that area. The kind of tension in the South China Sea which has been played up, even with ulterior motives, is contrary to the facts.


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