南シナ海情勢 緊張高める中国の「現状変更」

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China must be urged not to unilaterally change status quo in South China Sea
南シナ海情勢 緊張高める中国の「現状変更」

On one hand, China is discussing peace in the South China Sea with its Southeast Asian neighbors, but on the other, it is trying to change the status quo there through unilateral actions. Beijing needs to realize this inconsistency will result only in aggravating tensions and distrust between the two sides.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration is undertaking reclamation work on several reefs it effectively controls in the Spratly Islands to create artificial islands. The reclamation work is under way at six of the seven reefs controlled by China, according to reports. All the reefs are subject to territorial disputes between China and other countries, such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea based on the so-called nine-dash line it drew after ignoring international law. However, the international community, represented by Japan, the United States and Europe, does not recognize the nine-dash line because it lacks legal grounds.

It is apparent that the reclamation work runs counter to the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to avoid tensions from escalating or becoming more complex.

The reclamation work has drawn angry responses from Hanoi and Manila, and nations indirectly involved have expressed deep concern. We call on China to exercise restraint in building artificial islands, which is an attempt by China to reinforce its control over the reefs in the Spratly Islands.

Hegemonic behavior

In October, China revealed that Fiery Cross Reef, a reef that used to be submerged at high tide, had become an “island” with an area of about one square kilometer, the biggest island in the Spratly chain. About 200 military personnel are now stationed there, and Beijing has decided to build an airfield there, according to reports.

Currently, there are no airfields in the Spratly Islands. China’s aim is apparent — to develop Fiery Cross Reef into a military base so it can command the skies in the area. Some observers believe China is now considering the establishment of an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.

For Japan and the United States, important sea-lanes straddle the South China Sea. Ensuring the freedom of navigation there is vital for the two nations. China’s hegemonic behavior should never be condoned.

ASEAN is now calling for upgrading the nonbinding 2002 declaration to a legally binding code of conduct.

China has agreed to hold talks with ASEAN, but is extremely reluctant on formulating the code of conduct. The two sides were unable to start compiling a draft at a high-level meeting last month. We cannot help but conclude that China is using the talks to gain time until it succeeds in amassing faits accomplis, such as building artificial islands.

Next week, a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will take place in Beijing. The East Asia Summit will also be held in Myanmar.

The security situations in the South China and East China seas will likely become a point of contention at the two meetings.

The importance of preventing nations from using their military or economic power to unilaterally change the status quo and of establishing order on the high seas based on the rule of law should be widely shared by state leaders.

It is important for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama to join hands with other nations concerned to press China to take responsible actions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 5, 2014)Speech


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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