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Friday, August 7, 2015, 09:30

China makes South China Sea position clear

By Xinhua

"Till the 1970s, some countries began to invade and occupy islands and reefs following reports on oil reserves in the South China Sea, infringing the legal rights and interests of China. According to international laws, China is entitled to defend its own sovereignty, and rights and interests, and to make sure that the illegal actions infringing China's legal rights and interests wouldn't happen again."

Wang said the Philippines had failed to tell the truth when raising the South China Sea issue.

He said the Philippines alleges that Huangyan Island and other related islands and reefs in the South China Sea belong to the Philippines; however, the Treaty of Paris (1898), the Treaty of Washington (1900) and the Convention between the United States and Great Britain (1930) state clearly that the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118 degrees east longitude, while Huangyan Island and Nansha Islands are obviously not Philippine territories as they are located completely west to the 118 degrees east longitude.

After independence, the Philippines' domestic laws and relevant treaties have all reaffirmed the legal effects of the above- mentioned three treaties and once again expressively defined that the west limit of the Philippine territory is 118 degrees east longitude, Wang said.

"But after 1970, the Philippines illegally occupied eight islands and reefs in China's Nansha Islands through four military operations. That's how the territorial disputes arose between China and the Philippines," Wang said.

In the Ren'ai Reef, which is a constituent part of China's Nansha Islands, the Philippines illegally ran an old warship aground in May 1999 at that feature on the pretext of "technical difficulties." China has made repeated representations to the Philippines, demanding that the latter immediately tow away the vessel. The Philippines, for its part, had on numerous occasions made explicit undertaking to China to tow away the vessel grounded due to "lack of parts."

Afterwards, the Philippines told China that it would not become the first country that breaches the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

However, Wang said, more than 15 years have passed and the ship has become rusted, the Philippines, instead of fulfilling its promise, has openly declared that it had sneaked concrete and other building materials into the ship for consolidation.

On March 14, 2014, the Philippine foreign ministry claimed in a statement that the purpose of grounding the warship was to occupy the Ren'ai Reef. The Philippines thus exposed the 15-year lie it has invented and broke its promise. It's simply short of international credibility, Wang said.

Wang also retorted the claims of the Japanese representatives that all artificial islands and reefs in the South China Sea do not produce legal rights for the owner.

"But let's see what Japan has done. In recent years, Japan has spent some 10 billion yen (about US$80 million) on the tiny atoll of Okinotori, building it into a de facto island with cement and steel, and then claimed a right to a continental shelf extending beyond its 200-nautical mile coast boundaries as exclusive economic zone at the United Nations.

"However, most UN members considered Japan's claim inconceivable and chose to decline the proposal.

"Therefore, Japan should review its own words and deeds before criticizing others. Unlike Japan, China has claimed its right to the South China Sea a long time ago, which does not require enhancement through land reclamation."

Wang stressed that China is a de facto victim of the South China Sea issue.

"To maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, we have exercised great restraint."

China's basic stand is resolving relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respect for historical facts and international laws, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"This stand will never change," he said.

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