International ties

US creates the storm over South China Sea

By Wang Hui (
Updated: 2011-06-16 17:31
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To decipher Chinese feelings over the flurry of news on rifts over the South China Sea right now, nothing is more accurate than this Chinese proverb: The tree craves calm, but the wind will not subside.

It seems Vietnam and the Philippines are competing with one another in escalating tensions on the disputed maritime territory. This week alone saw a series of provocative moves instigated by the two countries.

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An AFP story on Monday said the Philippine president's office, following the protocol of the country's defense ministry, is renaming the South China Sea as the "West Philippine Sea".

In another attempt to shore up its claims over some isles in the South China Sea, Thursday's Philippine Daily Inquirer revealed that the country's navy removed "foreign" markers installed on three reefs and banks on disputed isles off Palawan in May and foiled an attempt last week to reestablish them.

For Vietnam's part, a string of events recently have fanned up anti-China sentiments in the country. While Vietnamese protesters continued to stage demonstrations in front of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, the country's navy conducted live-fire exercises on Monday in the South China Sea. Given the timing of the drills, the Vietnamese side could not be excused from intentionally exacerbating the current round of disputes through a blatant show of force.

On the same day, the prime minister of Vietnam signed an order on eligibility for military conscription. Although the decree is not a mobilization order, it clarifies who will be exempt from military service in the event of war. Under the backdrop of the current hot temperature in the South China Sea, the move could be interpreted as the country is preparing for the worst should the on-going tensions escalate.

As such, it is crystal clear that China did not start recent frictions over the South China Sea issue. Although the country does not lack the means and resources to demonstrate its sovereignty over the South China Sea, it has repeatedly called for peaceful solutions to solve the dispute. It always confines its activities in the disputed maritime territory to international laws.

China holds that the countries concerned should abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Signed in 2002, the document emphasizes that disputes should be settled through bilateral friendly consultations and negotiations between sovereign states directly involved.

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