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YangJiechi Gives Interview to State Media on the So-called Award by the ArbitralTribunal for the South China Sea Arbitration
2016/07/15

Reporter:What impact will the arbitration case have on China-ASEANrelations? How do you see the prospect of this relationship?

YangJiechi: The South China Sea issue is not an issue between China andASEAN. In fact, ASEAN has long made clear its neutrality on this issue and itsposition of not intervening in specific disputes. Therefore, it should not takesides on issues related to the arbitration. China and ASEAN member states havemaintained candid and friendly communication regarding the South China Seaissue. The two sides are ready to fully and effectively implement the DOC andmaintain peace and stability in the South China Sea through continuous dialogueand consultation. In the meantime, we will steadily take forward consultationson the Code of Conduct to promote early conclusion of the COC based onconsensus. As for specific disputes, China will maintain communication andconsultation with those ASEAN member states who are directly concerned toaddress them in a proper way. China means what it says and follows a consistentpolicy.

China-ASAEN relations enjoy sound momentum of growth and broadprospects. This year marks the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialoguerelations. Over the past quarter century, the China-ASEAN relationship haswithstood test of time and produced fruitful outcomes. Two-way trade has grownfrom less than US$10 billion 25 years ago to nearly US$500 billion, makingChina and ASEAN each other’s major trading partners. The growth of thisrelationship has brought tangible benefits to the people of all countries inthe region, setting a fine example of countries, big or small, treating eachother as equals and working together for common development.

In the coming September, China will be represented at theleadership level at the Summit marking the 25th anniversary of China-ASEANdialogue relations to be held in Laos. The Chinese leader will work withleaders of ASEAN countries in drawing a blueprint for the future development ofChina-ASEAN relations. They will endeavor to deepen political mutual trustthrough enhanced strategic communication, and strengthen practical cooperationand people-to-people exchanges to achieve peaceful development for mutualbenefit.

Reporter:How do you view the future of China-Philippines relations?

YangJiechi: China and the Philippines are close neighbors across the sea.Our friendly exchanges date back over 1,000 years. In recent years, however,bilateral relations have run into serious difficulty as a result of theprevious Philippine government’s hostile policy toward China on the South ChinaSea issue and its unilateral initiation of the arbitration. The arbitrationviolates both the agreement between China and the Philippines and internationallaw, and goes against the common interests of the two countries and peoples. Itis a major political obstacle to the improvement of bilateral relations. Wecall on the new Philippine government to bear in mind the common interests ofour two countries and the broader picture of bilateral ties and properly handlerelevant issues. As long as China and the Philippines remain committed to theprinciples and spirit of the DOC, to properly settling differences throughdialogue and consultation and growing friendship and mutually beneficialcooperation,our bilateral ties will enjoy a bright future.

Reporter:What is your comment on the frequent intervention by countriesoutside the region in the South China Sea issue and how will China respond tothat?

YangJiechi: The arbitration is a case in point of how non-regional countriesinterfere in the South China Sea issue. It is an issue between littoralcountries and should be left to the countries concerned to resolve throughpeaceful negotiations. Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and therelevant ASEAN countries, the South China Sea has long remained peaceful andstable, laying ground for regional development and prosperity.

In recent years, certain countries outside the region, driven bytheir own agenda, have frequently intervened in the South China Sea issue underthe pretext of upholding “freedom of navigation” and “maintaining regionalpeace”, leading to an escalation of tension. Such highly irresponsible moveshave become the major source of risks that affect peace and stability in theSouth China Sea.

We have always maintained that China and its neighboringcountries in the South China Sea have the wisdom and capability to managedifferences and build the area into a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.We have never rejected the legitimate rights and interests of non-regionalcountries in the South China Sea. This is what we have being saying and doing.We hope relevant countries will respect the independent choice of China and itsneighboring countries in the South China Sea and do more to facilitatesustained peace and stability in the South China Sea, not the contrary.

Reporter:What is China’s approach to resolving the South China Sea issue?

YangJiechi: China firmly follows a path of peaceful development, a foreignpolicy of pursuing friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and a policyof settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultation. Thanks tothese policies, since the founding of the PRC, China has settled boundaryissues left over from history with 12 of its 14 neighbors on land. Thesettlement has been achieved based on historical facts and basic principles ofthe international law and through bilateral consultation and negotiation.Borders of over 20,000 kilometers have been demarcated, accounting for over 90%of the total length of China’s borders. Moreover,China and Vietnam havedelimited the maritime boundary in Beibu Bay through negotiation and consultation.China and the ROK have also launched negotiation on maritime delimitation inthe Yellow Sea.

As a major country in the region, China is fully aware of theimportance of upholding regional peace and stability and its responsibility inthe region. China has all along been firmly opposed to the illegal occupationof some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands by certain countries and theirinfringement of China’s rights in relevant waters under China’s jurisdiction.That said, China is ready to settle the disputes through peaceful negotiationwith countries directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical factsand in compliance with international law, UNCLOS included. China is ready todiscuss with countries concerned about temporary arrangements pending finalsettlement of the dispute, which include joint development in relevant watersin the South China Sea for mutual benefits and win-win outcomes, so thattogether we can maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Reporter:Why do you believe that the Philippines’ initiation ofarbitration is against international law?

YangJiechi: A basic requirement of international rule of law is that actionsmust be taken in strict accordance with the law. The crux of disputes betweenChina and the Philippines in the South China Sea are issues concerningterritory and maritime delimitation. Territorial issues are not governed byUNCLOS. On maritime delimitation, China made a declaration on optionalexceptions in 2006 pursuant with UNCLOS stipulations, excluding it from thedispute settlement mechanisms of UNCLOS. By unilaterally initiatingarbitration, the Philippine government under Aquino III has gone against itslong-standing bilateral agreement with China that disputes in the South ChinaSea shall be settled through negotiation, violated the DOC signed in 2002 byChina and ASEAN countries, the Philippines included, and breached internationallaw and UNCLOS. Hence, this arbitration has been illegal since the verybeginning. It cannot be seen as an application of international law.

Reporter:Why do you think that the Arbitral Tribunal lacks legitimacy andimpartiality? Why is the award illegal and invalid?

YangJiechi: If you look at the composition of the Arbitral Tribunal, most ofthe arbitrators were appointed by Shunji Yanai, the then President of theInternational Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and a right-wing Japanese intenton ridding Japan of post-war arrangements. In the proceedings, some arbitratorsand experts even backtracked from their long-held views to make the case forthe Philippines. Anyone with good sense can see the tricks.

In disregard of China’s staunch position, the Arbitral Tribunalwillfully went beyond its authority, turned a blind eye to the history andreality of the South China Sea and misinterpreted relevant stipulations ofUNCLOS. It has deviated from UNCLOS from the very beginning and overstepped andexpanded its authority to render this award. Naturally, such an award can onlybe illegal and invalid. The Tribunal can in no way represent international law,still less equity and justice in the world.

Reporter:How will the award affect China’s dotted line in the South ChinaSea?

YangJiechi: History brooks no distortion and law no abuse. China’ssovereignty, rights and relevant claims in the South China Sea are graduallyformed and developed by the practice of the Chinese people throughout millenniaand have been upheld by successive Chinese governments. As early as in 1948,the Chinese government marked the dotted line in the South China Sea on itsofficially published map, which affirmed China’s sovereignty over the SouthChina Sea Islands and maritime rights and interests in their adjacent waters.This is a historical fact beyond any doubt. As a state party to UNCLOS,China isfully entitled to its rights under UNCLOS. China’s claims of rights andinterests in the South China Sea long predate the signing of UNCLOS. They shallby no means be denied by UNCLOS, still less by an unwarranted and flawed award.China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Seaare protected by both international law and UNCLOS.

Reporter:Given that the award has been rendered, how will China safeguardits territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South ChinaSea?

YangJiechi: The South China Sea, important to the Chinese people sinceancient times, is our heritage to which our forefathers devoted their wisdomand even lives. The Chinese government remains unwavering in its resolve tosafeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests inthe South China Sea. The Chinese people do not covet other countries’ interestsor envy their development. At the same time, we will never give up ourlegitimate interests. No country should expect us to trade our core interestsaway or swallow the bitter consequences of our sovereignty, security anddevelopment interests being undermined. The Chinese government and people willremain united and act resolutely to safeguard every inch of our land and everyswath of our waters.

Reporter:Some people accuse China of defying international rules by notaccepting or recognizing the award of the Tribunal, believing that China haschanged its policy of peaceful development. How will you respond to that?

Yang Jiechi:The South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippinesviolated the bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines. Itbreached regional rules as embodied in the DOC and international rules,including those under UNCLOS. China’s position on the arbitration fullycomplies with international law. This basic fact has been thoroughly elaboratedin a series of position papers issued by the Chinese government. The attempt tomount an all-out smear campaign against China by distorting this basic fact hasonce again exposed the nature of this arbitration, that is, a farce in whichcertain countries use international law as a cover to pursue their own hiddenagenda.

China has all along been an active player in building up andenhancing the regional and international order. Over 70 years ago, Chinaparticipated directly in the design and building of the post-war internationalorder. Over the past 70 plus years, China has consistently upheld theinternational order and system based on the purposes and principles of the UNCharter with the United Nations at the center, and steadfastly safeguarded andpromoted international rule of law. China will work with other countries tomaintain and build a sound international order and international system.

The arbitration will not in the slightest way shake China’sresolve to pursue the path of peaceful development. To seek peacefuldevelopment is not a matter of expediency. It is a strategic choice China hasmade in line with the trend of the time and its own fundamental interests.China remains committed to developing friendly relations with other countrieson the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, and deepeningwin-win cooperation and connectivity with its neighbors. It adheres tonegotiation and consultation as a means for addressing relevant territorial andmaritime delimitation issues, and resolutely safeguards peace and stability inthe region.

Reporter:What impact will the arbitration case have on China-ASEANrelations? How do you see the prospect of this relationship?

YangJiechi: The South China Sea issue is not an issue between China andASEAN. In fact, ASEAN has long made clear its neutrality on this issue and itsposition of not intervening in specific disputes. Therefore, it should not takesides on issues related to the arbitration. China and ASEAN member states havemaintained candid and friendly communication regarding the South China Seaissue. The two sides are ready to fully and effectively implement the DOC andmaintain peace and stability in the South China Sea through continuous dialogueand consultation. In the meantime, we will steadily take forward consultationson the Code of Conduct to promote early conclusion of the COC based onconsensus. As for specific disputes, China will maintain communication andconsultation with those ASEAN member states who are directly concerned toaddress them in a proper way. China means what it says and follows a consistentpolicy.

China-ASAEN relations enjoy sound momentum of growth and broadprospects. This year marks the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialoguerelations. Over the past quarter century, the China-ASEAN relationship haswithstood test of time and produced fruitful outcomes. Two-way trade has grownfrom less than US$10 billion 25 years ago to nearly US$500 billion, makingChina and ASEAN each other’s major trading partners. The growth of thisrelationship has brought tangible benefits to the people of all countries inthe region, setting a fine example of countries, big or small, treating eachother as equals and working together for common development.

In the coming September, China will be represented at theleadership level at the Summit marking the 25th anniversary of China-ASEANdialogue relations to be held in Laos. The Chinese leader will work withleaders of ASEAN countries in drawing a blueprint for the future development ofChina-ASEAN relations. They will endeavor to deepen political mutual trustthrough enhanced strategic communication, and strengthen practical cooperationand people-to-people exchanges to achieve peaceful development for mutualbenefit.

Reporter:How do you view the future of China-Philippines relations?

YangJiechi: China and the Philippines are close neighbors across the sea.Our friendly exchanges date back over 1,000 years. In recent years, however,bilateral relations have run into serious difficulty as a result of theprevious Philippine government’s hostile policy toward China on the South ChinaSea issue and its unilateral initiation of the arbitration. The arbitrationviolates both the agreement between China and the Philippines and internationallaw, and goes against the common interests of the two countries and peoples. Itis a major political obstacle to the improvement of bilateral relations. Wecall on the new Philippine government to bear in mind the common interests ofour two countries and the broader picture of bilateral ties and properly handlerelevant issues. As long as China and the Philippines remain committed to theprinciples and spirit of the DOC, to properly settling differences throughdialogue and consultation and growing friendship and mutually beneficialcooperation,our bilateral ties will enjoy a bright future.

Reporter:What is your comment on the frequent intervention by countriesoutside the region in the South China Sea issue and how will China respond tothat?

YangJiechi: The arbitration is a case in point of how non-regional countriesinterfere in the South China Sea issue. It is an issue between littoralcountries and should be left to the countries concerned to resolve throughpeaceful negotiations. Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and therelevant ASEAN countries, the South China Sea has long remained peaceful andstable, laying ground for regional development and prosperity.

In recent years, certain countries outside the region, driven bytheir own agenda, have frequently intervened in the South China Sea issue underthe pretext of upholding “freedom of navigation” and “maintaining regionalpeace”, leading to an escalation of tension. Such highly irresponsible moveshave become the major source of risks that affect peace and stability in theSouth China Sea.

We have always maintained that China and its neighboringcountries in the South China Sea have the wisdom and capability to managedifferences and build the area into a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.We have never rejected the legitimate rights and interests of non-regionalcountries in the South China Sea. This is what we have being saying and doing.We hope relevant countries will respect the independent choice of China and itsneighboring countries in the South China Sea and do more to facilitatesustained peace and stability in the South China Sea, not the contrary.

Reporter:What is China’s approach to resolving the South China Sea issue?

YangJiechi: China firmly follows a path of peaceful development, a foreignpolicy of pursuing friendship and partnership with its neighbors, and a policyof settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultation. Thanks tothese policies, since the founding of the PRC, China has settled boundaryissues left over from history with 12 of its 14 neighbors on land. Thesettlement has been achieved based on historical facts and basic principles ofthe international law and through bilateral consultation and negotiation.Borders of over 20,000 kilometers have been demarcated, accounting for over 90%of the total length of China’s borders. Moreover,China and Vietnam havedelimited the maritime boundary in Beibu Bay through negotiation andconsultation. China and the ROK have also launched negotiation on maritimedelimitation in the Yellow Sea.

As a major country in the region, China is fully aware of theimportance of upholding regional peace and stability and its responsibility inthe region. China has all along been firmly opposed to the illegal occupationof some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands by certain countries and theirinfringement of China’s rights in relevant waters under China’s jurisdiction.That said, China is ready to settle the disputes through peaceful negotiationwith countries directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical factsand in compliance with international law, UNCLOS included. China is ready todiscuss with countries concerned about temporary arrangements pending finalsettlement of the dispute, which include joint development in relevant watersin the South China Sea for mutual benefits and win-win outcomes, so thattogether we can maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

 
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