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Chinese Embassy refutes Wall Street Journal's editorial on South China Sea

Updated: 2016-06-10 10:56
By Bian Ji in New York (chinadaily.com.cn)

Here is the full text of a letter written on June 10, 2016, by Zhu Haiquan, press counselor and spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in the US, in response to an editorial titled "South China Sea Challenge" published by Wall Street Journal on June 3, 2016.

Regarding your editorial "South China Sea Challenge" (June 3), the origin of the South China Sea dispute is not China's territorial ambition but instead the illegal seizure and occupation of Chinese territory by other countries.

The islands and shoals in the South China Sea have long been Chinese territory. After World War II, China restored its sovereignty over them from Japanese occupation in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation, an act upholding postwar rules. But since the 1970s, 42 out of 51 land features in the Nansha Islands have been illegally occupied by other countries.

The 1898 Treaty of Paris, the 1900 Treaty of Washington and the 1930 Convention Between the U.S. and Great Britain defined the western limit of the Philippine's territory as 118 east longitude, reaffirmed by the Philippine Constitution in 1935. China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea, including Huangyan Dao (Scarborough Shoal), are all west of that line.

These historic rights are not superseded by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). In fact, Unclos respects the historic rights that predate it and are continuously claimed. By not accepting or participating in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, China is simply exercising its legitimate sovereign rights under Unclos.

China has already signed border treaties through peaceful negotiations with 12 out of 14 of its land neighbors. The same practice should be adopted in the South China Sea.

US military operations in the South China Sea only fuel tensions. The moves suggested by this editorial are even more reckless and alarming. No country's interests are served by turning the South China Sea into a geopolitical competing ground.

The US often emphasizes the importance of reducing tension and maintaining the space necessary for diplomatic solution. We hope the U.S. will match its words with deeds.

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