|Wang Yi on the South China Sea Issue At the ASEAN Regional Forum|
| 2015-08-11 17:56
The following are Wang Yi's remarks: At both the EAS Foreign Ministers' Meeting in the morning and the ARF Foreign Ministers' Meeting, the South China Sea issue has been raised by some countries. Therefore, it is necessary for China to get the facts out and set the record straight so as to win the understanding and support from various parties.
First, the situation in the South China Sea is stable on the whole, and there is no possibility of major conflicts. China therefore objects to any non-constructive words or deeds that attempt to exaggerate the disagreements, hype up confrontation and heat up tensions, which do not conform to reality.
China also has a stake in the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The majority of Chinese cargo are shipped through the South China Sea, so freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is equally important to China. China always maintains that countries enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with the international law. Up to now, there has not been a single case in which freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is impeded. China stands ready to work with other parties to continue to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.
As for the disputes on Nansha islands and reefs, this is a long-standing issue. The South China Sea Islands are China's territory. There is a history of two thousand years since China discovered and named the islands in the South China Sea. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Second World War. Seventy years ago, pursuant to the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, China lawfully recovered the Nansha and Xisha Islands which were illegally occupied by Japan and resumed exercise of sovereignty. As a matter of fact, the military vessels China used in recovering the islands were provided by the United States, an Allied Nation. This historical fact must have been recorded in the archives of the countries you represent. It was not until the 1970s when there were reports about oil under the South China Sea that some countries began to invade and occupy Nansha islands and reefs, undermining China's lawful rights and interests. According to international law, China has the right to defend its sovereignty, rights and interests, and China has the right to prevent the repeat of such illegal moves as encroaching upon China's lawful rights and interests.
The delegate of the Philippines mentioned the South China Sea issue, but he fell short of speaking out the truth. For instance, the Philippines claimed that the Huangyan Island and the relevant islands and reefs of Nansha belong to it. But that is not true. The fact is, according to the Treaty of Paris in 1898, the Treaty of Washington in 1900 and the Convention Between the United States and Great Britain of 1930 which defined the territory of the Philippines, the western boundary of the Philippines is delimited by 118 degrees east longitude. The Huangyan Island and Nansha Islands are completely to the west of 118 degrees east longitude. They are not the Philippines' territory. After the Philippines gained independence, the domestic law of the Philippines, and the relevant treaties concluded by the Philippines all accepted the legal force of the three treaties mentioned above, and confirmed the scope of its territory to be limited by 118 degrees east longitude. Nevertheless, after the 1970s, the Philippines staged four military operations and illegally invaded and occupied eight islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands. This is what is at the bottom of the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines.
Another example is that in 1999, the Philippines illegally "stranded" an old warship on the Ren'ai Reef, which is part of China's Nansha Islands. When China made representations, the Philippines claimed that it could not tow the warship away due to "the lack of spare parts". Later, the Philippine side indicated to the Chinese side that it would not be the first country to violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Now 15 years have passed and the old warship has already become extremely rusty. The Philippines, instead of keeping its promise of removing the warship, has publicly stated that it had stealthily transported cement and other building materials to the warship in order to reinforce the installation. On 14 March, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines admitted that the very purpose of grounding the warship on the Ren'ai Reef was to occupy it. The Philippines has exposed its own lie of 15 years and failed to fulfill its own commitment. What international credibility is there in the conduct of the Philippines?