The Stance of China on South China Sea (Part 5)
The Nansha Islands are China’s integral territory. Every Chinese has an obligation to defend them. China has not and will not make any new territorial claims.
In building defense facilities on our own islands and reefs, China is exercising its right to self-preservation under international law. China is not the first country to have deployed weapons in the Nansha, we are not the country that has deployed the most weapons, and we are not the country that conducts the most frequent military activities. China cannot be accused of “militarization”; the label is more suited to some other countries.
In addition to building necessary defense facilities on the Nansha and more importantly, China is building civilian facilities to provide public goods to the international community. When the construction is completed and the condition is ripe, we will consider inviting foreign journalists to visit the islands and reefs.
China is the largest country bordering the South China Sea, so we hope, more than any other country, to uphold the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and other regional countries, it is one of the freest and safest sea lanes in the world. Freedom of navigation does not give them a license to do whatever they want. If someone wants to muddy the waters or to destabilize Asia, China will not agree to it and the overwhelming majority of countries in the region will not allow it to happen.
The fact is, China has made various efforts to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea. We have set up a China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, which has supported over 40 cooperation projects. We are actively advancing the COC consultation: The parties have reached two Lists of Commonalities and entered into the phase of discussing crucial and complex issues. We have initiated to formulate preventive measures for managing maritime risks. And we have offered to set up the maritime emergency diplomatic hotline and the maritime joint search and rescue hotline. These initiatives speak volumes about our sincerity, but they’ve been obstructed by certain individual countries. Yet China has every capability and confidence to work with ASEAN countries to maintain the overall picture of peace and development in the South China Sea.