Going back to negotiations only forward way for South China Sea disputes: Zhao Qizheng

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/7/18 14:17:39

Former minister of China's State Council Information Office Zhao Qizheng stated unequivocally that going back to negotiations is the only way forward for the settlement of disputes in the South China Sea and that an arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Aquino III administration will not impede the progress of China-ASEAN cooperation.

Zhao made the remarks during a keynote speech at the Think Tank Seminar on South China Sea and Regional Cooperation and Development held in Singapore on Monday.

Organized by the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the seminar attracted more than 20 experts from academic institutes in China and countries in the region, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

The seminar focused on three main topics, namely settlement mechanism of maritime disputes, solutions to the disputes of the South China Sea, as well as South China Sea and regional cooperation and development.


Zhao reiterated China's unwavering position of non-acceptance and non-recognition of the ruling issued by the ad hoc tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration.

"The so-called arbitration was a downright political farce under the pretext of law. It contained serious errors in issues concerning procedure, application of laws, and admission of evidence," Zhao said in his keynote speech.

Zhao added that the ad hoc tribunal handling the South China Sea Arbitration violated the principle that arbitration shall be based on state consent, China's right to choose its own means of dispute settlement, and a bilateral agreement already reached between the Philippines and China, and repeatedly reaffirmed over the years.

He reiterated that the only way to resolve complicated disputes in the South China Sea is through bilateral negotiations and consultations.

The expert on the matter also pointed out that the so-called arbitration also violated the commitment made by the Philippines in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), to resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations.


In his keynote speech, Zhao went on to explain that China's position on its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interest in the South China Sea is consistent and clear.

"Going back to negotiations is the only way to move forward with disputes in the South China Sea," said Zhao, "China will stick to the dual-track approach, meaning relevant disputes should be settled properly through negotiations and consultations by states directly concerned, and China and the ASEAN countries should work together to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea."

In the wake of the so-called award, Zhao mentioned he has noticed reports that some Philippine people are calling for dialogue and economic cooperation with China, and President Rodrigo Duterte will send delegates to China to talk about the South China Sea issue.

"We sincerely hope that negotiations will be resumed soon, and then China-Philippine relations will be back on track," said Zhao.


The former minister also made some remarks on China-ASEAN relations in his speech, stating that communication and cooperation between China and ASEAN member states has never ceased and have brought great benefits to all countries despite some difficulties.

Zhao said that it is beyond doubt that China-ASEAN cooperation helps maintaining regional peace and stability, and that keeping such developmental momentum is in the best interests of all.

"In view of the current situation, China-ASEAN should overcome interferences and place our priority on cooperation. Strategically speaking, this is the most realistic solution," said Zhao.

Zhao stressed that the disputes in the South China Sea are only a problem between China and some of the ASEAN member states, not all of them. The so-called arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Aquinio III administration will not undermine the strategic partnership between China and ASEAN, and it will not impede the progress of China-ASEAN cooperation either, he maintained.

Since China and ASEAN established an overall dialogue framework in 1991, the two sides have achieved an deepening cooperation in politics and security, robust cooperation in economics and trade, and made significant headway in people-to-people exchanges.

Based on such progress, Zhao believed that the potential for China-ASEAN cooperation in the South China Sea will be tapped gradually.

"Through extensive cooperation, the two sides will achieve mutually beneficial, win-win outcomes, and the South China Sea will become a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship," said Zhao.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue and Relations. In September, a summit will be held in Vientiane in Laos to celebrate this great event. Zhao said China can take this opportunity to further promote China-ASEAN relations.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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