US again roils the waters in South China Sea

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/8 14:12:27

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT


US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said at a press statement on Monday that the US is "seriously concerned" by reports of China's "sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel" in the vicinity of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. The statement said the incident was China's action to "assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea."

A Vietnamese fishing boat entered the inland waters off China's Xisha Islands and refused to leave despite warnings by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel, said China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 3. The Chinese Coast Guard vessel was struck at the bow and the Vietnamese fishing boat sank. All eight Vietnamese fishermen on board were rescued and no one was injured.

The unfortunate incident occurred on the early morning of April 2 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the US, which still issued a derogatory statement and intervened in disputes between China and Vietnam. The US can never miss a chance to interfere in the South China Sea issue. The US stubbornly regards China as a rival, and to achieve its goals, Washington cares only about its political stand and is not interested in determining right or wrong.  

The US seeks to hype the South China Sea issue in terms of diplomacy and public opinion, tarnish China's international image and drive a wedge between China and Vietnam. Thus, China should not be surprised by the intervention. Nor should we let the US dominate the situation. As always, China's focus is on the proper handling of related issues with Vietnam and adhering to the position that disputes over relevant issues should be resolved through negotiations.

The US does not really support Vietnam's position or those of other countries that have disputes with China. The US only hopes to use the disputes to sow discord between China and the other countries and turn them into pawns of the US policy of containing China. 

If China and the US reach a compromise, or if the situation actually harms US' interests, don't expect the US to continue to be the so-called backer of other countries in the region. These countries are well aware of this. They may coordinate with the US to win some support from Washington, but they will not choose sides as the US attempts to contain China. 

Despite US attempts to drive a wedge between China and Vietnam, the two countries' relations are generally stable. This shows that the US is not the main factor in the development of China-Vietnam relations. Although the South China Sea issue is prominent, it is not the whole of China-Vietnam relations. Their bilateral relations are based on deep political mutual trust and economic dependence. US interference will not make the two countries drift apart.

In its statement, the US called on China to "remain focused on supporting international efforts" to combat COVID-19, claiming that China should "stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea." 

The US' accusation is flawed. 

First, China's claims in the South China Sea have been consistent. The US' suggestion that China's claims are "unlawful" is an unethical misrepresentation of the facts, which it knows is unfair.

Second, China's normal scientific research and law enforcement activities in the area have long been known to exist. They have not stopped because of China's internal epidemic, nor have they expanded because of other countries' epidemic situation.

Third, China actively supports the global fight against COVID-19 by providing medical supplies to other countries and sending medical experts around the world. It is the US, not China that wants to escalate the situation and interfere with the international community's joint response to the pandemic.

Faced with continuous provocation from the US in the South China Sea, China should respond in a targeted way. China should not regard the South China Sea as an issue in China-US relations. Any response to US accusations must be based on the stand that disputes must be settled through negotiations among claimants. Escalating the South China Sea issue will only serve the US, which is attempting to hype the situation.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Qingqing based on an interview with Li Kaisheng, a deputy director at the Institute of International Relations, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.


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