China: Only claimants should resolve West PHL Sea issue
The territorial row in the West Philippine Sea (also called South China Sea) should be resolved only by the parties concerned, a Chinese official stressed anew Sunday.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said China has consistently sought to resolve the issue through friendly negotiations with countries directly concerned.
"The South China Sea is not an issue between ASEAN and China, but rather between China and relevant ASEAN countries," Fu said, according to a report posted on the Chinese government web portal.
"China is also ready to enter into discussions with ASEAN countries on a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea when conditions are ripe," she added.
Fu made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua on the relations between China and the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Fu also said China remains committed to managing and tackling "relevant issues" with the Philippines and Vietnam.
The official said China wishes to address these issues through friendly consultations and urged them to "not let these differences affect the larger interest of bilateral relations and China-ASEAN relations as a whole."
In past months, tension had escalated between China and the Philippines over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which China refers to as Huangyan Island.
April's standoff started when Philippine forces spotted Chinese fishermen gathering marine species in the area but were blocked by Chinese ships when making arrests.
China also had territorial issues with Vietnam in the West Philippine Sea.
Last July, the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Phnom Penh failed to issue a joint communiqué.
Fu said this was because certain ASEAN members claiming sovereignty of parts of the West Philippine Sea "tried to impose their own positions on this issue onto ASEAN."
"Such acts go against the important consensus reached by China and ASEAN countries in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)," Fu said.
Also, Fu said the acts were opposed by most ASEAN countries during the recent meetings.
She said certain countries were unable to make compromises which meant eventually ASEAN was not able to issue the joint communiqué.
"This was not a situation the Chinese side had wanted to see," she said.
Fu added the DOC signed by China and ASEAN countries a decade ago clearly provides that parties should "resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, ... through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned."
"China hopes that all ASEAN countries will join China in working for a comprehensive and effective implementation of the DOC," she said.
On the other hand, Fu said China's claims that it has sovereignty over Nansha (Spratly) Islands and their adjacent waters are based on solid and abundant historical and legal basis.
She added China has advocated shelving disputes and going for common development in the South China Sea pending a final resolution. — RSJ, GMA News
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