S.China Sea ADIZ depends on security threats: admiral

By Sun Xiaobo, Liu Chang in Singapore and Liu Sha in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-1 0:28:02

US, China remain restrained at Shangri-La summit

Speculations surrounding China's establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea is "groundless," China said Sunday, while defending its construction work in the region as "justified" and "legitimate."

Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), made the remarks during his keynote speech at the 14th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore, one of the most important defense and security summits in the Asia-Pacific.

Sun said the construction in the South China Sea does not target any country or affect freedom of navigation. In response to hype over the alleged South China Sea ADIZ, he said that such an action depends on security threats, but judging by the current situation, the speculation is "groundless." 

The annual three-day conference came in the wake of multiple US accusations that China's construction in the Nansha Islands is hampering regional stability.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Saturday called on China to halt construction, saying it was "out of step" with international norms.

Despite the preceding media hype, the US and China both displayed a restrained and calm attitude, experts and officials from some of the more than 26 countries at the SLD, told Global Times reporters.

Calm approach

While Sun refrained from singling out the US for criticism in his address on Sunday, Carter said Saturday at the SLD that "turning an underwater rock into an airfield does not afford the rights of sovereignty." Observers said that he has adopted a milder tone than on previous occasions, which will eliminate the odds of conflict, but it does not mean that the US is giving up its stance.

Dana Allin, a senior research fellow with the Dialogue's organizer, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the Global Times Sunday that both the US and China have decided on a calm approach.

"Carter said that the US will keep its presence in the South China Sea, but other than that he did not make it confrontational," Allin said.

Euan Graham, director at the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia, told the Global Times that he found a symmetry in the speeches given by Sun and Carter and that they are framing the language with a "win-win logic." Both Carter and Sun put the South China Sea issue to the latter part of their speeches.

Wang Xiaopeng, an expert in maritime and border studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Sunday that US determination to get deeply involved in the South China Sea disputes will not change no matter how mild Carter's criticism was.

On Friday in Hawaii, Carter said China is "increasing demand for American engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We're going to meet it," warning China not to militarize the region.

Carter, however, changed his tone because the US was expecting countries like Japan, Philippines and Vietnam to bring up complaints first, Wang said. "But unlike at the 2014 SLD, these three countries, each having their own appeal to make, did not act aggressively over territorial disputes."

Dismiss speculation

Ei Sun Oh, an expert in international studies from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told the Global Times that the South China Sea will continue to see mutual restraint between China and the US. But those "restrained confrontations" will not pose threats to the Sino-US relationship.

Reiterating China's position, Sun also said Sunday that China's South China Sea construction activities will not only meet military and defense needs, but also will improve the civil uses of the islands and help fulfill China's international responsibilities.

Zhu Feng, an observer studying the South China Sea who also attended the summit, said that a top task for China is to dismiss skeptical speculation from other countries, especially Southeast Asian nations.

As for how much Sun's speech eased such speculation, Major General Jin Yinan, a military strategist with the National Defense University, told the Global Times that Sun's speech will allow other countries to understand and anticipate China's actions.

"Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, big or small, have to clearly define their own interests and China delivered effective information in that sense. China does not want conflicts, and who wants this?" Jin said.


Posted in: Diplomacy

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