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11/12/2012

Who are the real trouble makers in the South China Sea?


Who are the real troublemakers in the South China Sea
PART     ONE
Globaltimes.cn | 2012-11-6 21:17:06
By Wu Shicun
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Recently, some foreign media claim that China has become increasingly "aggressive" in the South China Sea. They even falsely declare that China has taken "provocative actions" to escalate the tensions in the sea and blame China for the "instability" in this area.
These reports are obviously inconsistent with the facts. When it comes to disputes in the South China Sea, China is not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some directly concerned parties have frequently taken provocative actions and ignited incidents, while some non-parties keep instigating other countries in the dispute, trying to push the multilateralization and internationalization of this issue.
That is the true cause of the escalation of the situation. The international media should not confuse truth and falsehood, be biased in favor of the conflict instigator, or deliberately ignore the great efforts and contributions made by China for a stable South China Sea. 
Who’s the instigator of rising tensions in the South China Sea?
Since 2009, tensions over South China Sea issues have mounted. It is related to the impact of traditional and non-traditional security factors and also the outcome of the interaction between inside and outside powers in the region. In particular, the US global strategic focus shift to Asia triggered the reconstruction of the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape in Southeast Asia.
Taking advantage of this occasion, some directly concerned countries deliberately consolidate their claims, trying to push the multilateralization and internationalization of the South China Sea dispute with the help of outside powers. Moreover, some countries outside the region follow the US global strategy shift to Asia to increase their interference in South China Sea affairs, which further escalated the geopolitical competition in this area and finally pushed the South China Sea into becoming an international hot spot.
Some claimant states frequently take provocative actions in the South China Sea, which caused the tensions in this region. On February 17, 2009, the Philippine Congress passed the Baselines Bill, which includes Huangyan Island and some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands as Philippine "territory.”
In April and July 2009, Vietnam government officially appointed their chief executives of the Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands, and strengthened their de facto occupation on these islands through sending immigrants, organizing public tourism activities, and other measures.
In March and May 2011, the Philippines and Vietnam took unilateral actions to explore the resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea. This year, on April 10, the Philippines sent warships to harass Chinese fishing boats which were operating normally in the Huangyan Island lagoon. Moreover, the Philippines intentionally ignited the conflict through illegal actions like detaining the fishermen and conducting onboard inspection, creating a standoff.
On June 21, the National Assembly of Vietnam adopted the Vietnamese Law of the Sea which places China's Xisha and Nansha islands under Vietnamese "sovereignty" and "jurisdiction.” The abovementioned and follow-up actions taken by the concerned parties in the dispute have not only infringed on China's territorial sovereignty and China's maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, but also violated the principal consensus demonstrated in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ASEAN countries in 2002 and relevant commitments made by those countries. This is the main cause of the escalating tensions on this issue.  
Outside powers intervene in South China Sea affairs, which further intensifies the tensions on this issue. On July 23, 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a public speech on the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Hanoi of Vietnam, declaring the high-profile intervention of the US in the South China Sea dispute. On November 19, 2011, US President Barack Obama proposed a framework for a multilateral resolution to the South China Sea issue on the sixth East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Moreover, 2012 has seen more and more high-level US officials make public remarks regarding South China Sea issue, openly intervening in this regional dispute. In addition, US forces strengthened their deployment and presence in the West Pacific area, including the South China Sea. Under such circumstances, some other countries outside the region echo, follow or even work in concert with the US to intervene in South China Sea dispute through economic aid, bilateral military cooperation, participating in the oil and gas exploration in disputed areas, and other ways.
For instance, shortly after the Huangyan Island standoff, the US announced the plan to help the Philippines to build a new National Coast Watch Center; Japan, in addition, proposed providing more than 10 patrol ships to the Philippines to enhance the country's sea power. Obviously, these actions by US and Japan further complicated the South China Sea situation. 

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