Expert views negotiation and consultation best way to solve disputes in South China Sea

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/7/19 9:09:06

Dialogues, negotiations and consultations are the best way to solve disputes in the South China Sea, a Singapore-based expert said on Monday during a seminar on South China Sea and regional cooperation.

The final award, issued by an arbitral tribunal on July 12, sweepingly sided with the Philippines and denied China's long-standing historical rights in the South China Sea.

The Chinese government has dismissed the ill-founded award as "null and void with no binding force."

Li Mingjiang, associate professor at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, told Xinhua that related countries have showed political will to exercise restraint since the biased award was issued.

In the short term, the impact of the arbitration was not very obvious, he said.

"Over the past a few days, the situation of South China Sea is relatively stable, which is reassuring," said Li, adding that negotiations and consultations were the best way to solve the maritime disputes.

"International law, to some extent, can be used as an auxiliary tool, but a large number of cases in international relations prove that negotiations are much more effective, and this way is also more pragmatic," he said.

Positive interactions were witnessed between China and the Philippines recently, which could be reflected through diplomacy, politics and communications, said Li. He was optimistic about the interactions, saying no matter whether they touched the core of the South China Sea issue, it was a good start.

Li pointed out that how Manila dealt with the so-called arbitration was a key issue that would impact the China-Philippine relations. The Aquino III administration had soured its relations with China, while the new Philippine government expressed willingness to talk and negotiate with Beijing.

"At the first stage of interactions, it's of more symbolic meaning to some extent," Li said. "Such kind of interactions neither need to touch upon the core of the South China Sea issue, nor talk about the arbitration."

At present stage, it might still be premature to start negotiations on maritime delimitation and fisheries disputes, he said. "Perhaps, related countries are not ready for such negotiations."

As for the China-ASEAN relations, Li believed the seminar helped the participants make clear their opinions and enhance communications while reducing the possibility of strategic misjudgment.

"Based on communications over the past years, claimants, non-claimants in the region and countries outside of the region have gradually achieved consensus that the situation of South China Sea should be cool down, and peace and stability should be secured," said Li. "Meanwhile, countries could strengthen cooperation in possible areas."

Organized by the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the seminar attracted more than 20 experts from China and Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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