South China Sea should not be dominated by outside countries

2016-03-11 09:30Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping

In view of the disturbing development of events, countries around the South China Sea should maintain the dominant role in addressing issues in this region.

It is a plain fact that only countries in this region are most impacted by events in the South China Sea, whether bad or good. Only they are capable of making decisions in the best interests of their "neighborhood," unlike countries far from the center of events.

Harmony and prosperity in the region are under threat, largely due to the intervention of parties from outside the region. It is time for neighbors to work together for the common good of the community and firmly take the helm of regional affairs to prevent the area from becoming the "second Middle East."

For thousands of years, the South China Sea has generally enjoyed peace, suffering only a brief period of invasion by Japanese troops. Coastal countries have co-existed peacefully and harmoniously, to the envy of people in the world's conflict "hot spots." While minor friction has occasionally occurred, it has always been solved quickly and amicably.

This peaceful atmosphere has been upset by the sudden showy increase in warships and bombers from countries outside the region under the high-sounding pretext of maintaining freedom of navigation and flight, although such freedoms have never been under threat.

It is known to all that the South China Sea remains among the world's safest and freest seaways. Countries in this region rely heavily on this transport route and none has ever attempted to block it.

The other reasons cited by certain countries in ramping up their military presence include the race by South China Sea coastal countries to build islands and the installation of military facilities on islands these countries control.

While the activities of countries in the region may be a matter of concern, they haven't led to any events of significance nor will they, judging from the successful track record of these countries in handling disputes. This does not warrant the deep involvement of outsiders.

Any disputes among regional countries are dwarfed immediately by the increasing presence of heavyweight weaponry and biased rhetoric that incites conflict. Obviously, the fundamental interests of this neighborhood have not been given much thought.

The intervention has produced tangible negative effects as incited by foreign powers, several countries have begun large-scale weaponry purchases that may give rise to widespread arms race in this region and trigger instability. In certain cases, several countries even attempted to demand interests that could not be practically satisfied even with bloody conflicts.

The current actions of non-regional elements are worrisome and come as a strong reminder that countries in the region, as core stakeholders, should seriously consider their role in important regional matters, notably peace and prosperity.

Countries in this region have coexisted harmoniously for thousands of years. Such amicable relations could definitely be extended further and further, as long as they maintain peaceful approaches in addressing their disputes and keep the big picture in mind.

With the overall interests of this region in mind, China has been working vigorously to promote peace and stability in the region, such as launching a China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund that has so far financed more than 40 projects.

China is actively advancing consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, which have resulted in two consensus documents. The consultations have reached a new stage of discussing "significant and complex issues," according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

China has proposed maritime risk prevention and control measures, including the launch of two hotlines for maritime emergency diplomacy and joint search and rescue.

"China's initiatives, which show our sincerity, have been obstructed by a few countries and thus the progress has not been very fast," Wang said. "But China, working with ASEAN countries, has the capability and confidence to maintain the overall situation of peace and development in the South China Sea."

Hopefully these remarks, and the remarkable restraint shown by China on the South China Sea, will be appreciated by other members of this community and together they could find a proper way to address the current issue.

A piece of advice for outside countries that wish to dominate the South China Sea issue: It would be a smart choice for outside countries to let nations in the region take the reins in their own affairs, and to promote regional harmony so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a peaceful and prosperous Asia.

With its growing prosperity and importance, the region has attracted more and more attention from the outside. "Rebalancing to Asia" is fine, if it brings more investment, cooperation and opportunities and boosts regional harmony, rather than conflict and calamity.


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