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Foreign countries' claim over islands will not succeed

04-26-2012 09:30 BJT Special Report:China Holds Undisputed Sovereignty over Huangyan Island |

The Philippines and China have been stuck in a stalemate for many days. The Philippines recently conducted military exercises with the United States and the South China Sea issue has again become the focus of world opinion. The Philippines pretended to be bullied by a big country and hoped to get support from the United States. They will never succeed because it not only violates the principles of International Law but also ignores the historical facts.

Both the Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands originally belong to China. The Philippines and Vietnam’s territorial claim of South China Sea Islands is mainly on the basis of the system of exclusive economic zone and continental shelf regulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In fact, it is not a reason to infringe on the South China Sea Islands.

The UNCLOS only allows the coastal countries to establish 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea Islands but there is not any provision stipulating that coastal countries can demand or occupy it. In addition, the UNCLOS cannot replace other norms of International Law. The UNCLOS states initially that the signatory countries of the UNCLOS should act according to the rules and principles of general International Law when facing issues non-included in the UNCLOS.

The principles of historical rights and International Law are the most effective principles to determine the ownership of the territories, namely, the principles of first discovery, first occupation and first exercise of jurisdiction. China has had jurisdiction over the South China Sea since the Song and Yuan dynasties. Even in modern times, the Republic of China was internationally recognized to take over the South China Sea Islands based on the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation after the defeat of Japan. The administrative regions map of the Republic of China had marked the boundary line in the South China Sea in 1947 and the People’s Republic of China also re-declared its territorial sovereignty of the South China Sea Islands in the Declaration of the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea in 1958.

The Philippines and other countries had never expressed any objections to the series of processes. And Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong had endorsed the Declaration in his letter to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Only since the 1970s, especially after the UNCLOS took effect in 1994, the Philippines and some other countries found it profitable and put forward the sovereign demand for China’s territories and waters by invoking the UNCLOS. It is ridiculous viewing from the principles of the International Law.

The Philippines and Vietnam’s sovereign claim to the South China Sea Islands is based on the “adjacent geographic location.” It is untenable whether it is based on the International Law or the reality. France’s St. Pierre Island and Miquelon are only 20 kilometers away from the coast of Newfoundland of Canada but are thousands of kilometers away from France. Denmark’s Greenland is far away from the continent of Europe but is separated with a narrow strip of water from Nunavut in northern Canada. If using geographic proximity as the only criteria to determine the ownership of territories, most coastal and land border lines in the world would have been redrawn.

Defending the territorial sovereignty has nothing to do with the size of the country. Every country has responsibility to protect its territory whether it is small or big. China is a big country but it was invaded in the late Qing dynasty. A small country should be more self-respected. For example, Switzerland is a small country but it defends itself as a neutral and won widespread respect. It is the act of a child to cry if one cannot get what he or she wants.

The conflict around the South China Sea is indeed associated with the rise of China. However, it is absolutely nonsense that the rise must be accompanied with expansion. And it just is an excuse for Western countries to curb the rise of China. Anyone with discerning eyes can see that the Southeast Asian countries are used by the United States to contain China and service for its strategy of “returning to Asia to contain China.” Hypocritically, the United States who had refused to sign the UNCLOS now uses the UNCLOS to contain China. Who can believe the so-called fairness and neutrality the United States boasts?

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: People's Daily

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