Calm South China Sea doesn't need US stoking flames of conflict

By Shang Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-8-13 23:03:01

This weekend saw top diplomats of the world's two largest economies, the US and China, engage in a head-on clash over the South China Sea issue.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi rebuffed a call by US Secretary of State John Kerry for a "freeze" on provocative actions in the South China Sea at an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Myanmar.

Kerry's proposal sounds good, but may be counterproductive in effect. It is simply an unconstructive idea.

In the first place, it exaggerated the maritime tensions in the region, and would complicate the ongoing efforts by relevant parties to calm down the waves in the South China Sea.

Despite a recent confrontation between Beijing and Hanoi over China's deployment of an oil rig in its own waters, the overall situation in the sea remains stable, and poses no major risk of spiraling out of control.

In particular, the US worries over maritime safety are unwarranted since the freedom of navigation has been fully guaranteed.

By stoking the flames, Washington is further emboldening countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hard-line stance against China, raising suspicion over the real intention of the US and make an amicable solution more difficult.

It can hardly be accepted as a coincidence that the previously calm South China Sea has lost its tranquility since the US embarked on its "pivot to Asia" strategy.

Rejecting the US proposal does not mean China will not behave itself. On the contrary, China has so far exerted maximum restraint in its territorial and maritime disputes with some ASEAN countries, and has been consistent in seeking negotiated solutions on a bilateral basis.

Beijing is also working with the ASEAN bloc on the formulation of a Code of Conduct to ensure regional peace and stability, which serves interests of all countries in the region as well as the US.

All these efforts made by countries directly involved are the best way to solve the disputes, rather than a proposal by an outside interested party, who claims neutrality but often adopts double standards in the disputes.

China has always welcomed the US playing a constructive role, but what Washington has said and done has sometimes been pitifully unconstructive.

It is worth noting that the overall relationship between China and ASEAN is solid and flourishing, which has brought enormous benefits to the people on both sides.

There is a common recognition that the good momentum should not be interrupted by the disputes between China and some ASEAN members.

It is a painful reality that the US has left too many places in chaos after it stepped in, as people are witnessing now in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

The South China Sea should not be the next one.

The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency.

Posted in: Viewpoint

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