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China voice: South China Sea not issue between China, U.S.
2015/09/18

By Xinhua writers Meng Na and Fu Shuangqi

BEIJING, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The brouhaha over the South China Sea disputes, which seems louder than ever, misrepresents the situation in the region.

Despite differences on the South China Sea issue, China and the United States do share the perspective that navigational freedom and safety should be safeguarded to facilitate business and trade. The South China Sea is not and should not be an issue between the two countries.

China has strong historical evidence and legal support to justify its sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.

Since the 1970s, countries including the Philippines and Vietnam have invaded and occupied islands and reefs in the South China Sea, infringing the legal rights and interests of China. It was those countries that started the dispute.

As a de facto victim of the South China Sea issue, China exercises great restraint to maintain peace and stability in the waters.

China's fundamental goal in this area is to make the South China Sea a place embodying peace, friendship and cooperation, which aligns with its diplomatic vision of sticking to a path of peaceful development. Peace and stability in these waters is also in the interests of the United States.

Being an outsider and not a party concerned, the United States does not have any territorial dispute with China. However, some in Washington, still operating under a Cold War mentality, see the issue as an opportunity to contain China and hinder China's development.

Meanwhile, certain countries in the region have also tried to drag the United States in and create a confrontation between it and China so that they can reap the catch without lifting a finger.

People with vision, from both sides of the Pacific, have seen through such schemes and there are possibilities that the two major countries can work together for the peace and stability of the region.

To deal with the disputes, China and ASEAN members have adopted a dual-track approach, under which specific disputes are solved through negotiations by countries directly concerned and peace and stability in the region are jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries together.

They have signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and made progress in consultation on formulating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The United States should live up to its pledge of not taking sides on the issue. China welcomes the United States putting forward constructive proposals but they have to be feasible.

China'construction projects on some inhabited islets of the Nansha Islands aim to improve working and living conditions of locals and are in line with strict environmental protection standards. They will not break the balance of power in the region nor challenge navigational freedom.

Freedom of navigation and flyover, in fact has never been a problem and will not be a problem. China has the same concern as other countries over the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as most of its merchandise is transported through this region.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently said, "China is willing to work with other parties in keeping freedom of navigation and flyover in the South China Sea."

Seven decades ago, China and the United States were allies against the Fascist forces. In the future, they will nurture a positive mode of cooperation and supplement each other on major issues.

Later this month, President Xi Jinping will pay his first state visit to the United States. His visit is widely expected to draw up a clearer design for ties.

When meeting with his U.S.counterpart Barack Obama in June 2013 in California, Xi proposed a concept known as "a new model of major-country relations." A year and five months later, when Obama visited China, the two identified priorities for building the new model of major-country relations.

Based on avoiding confrontation and conflict, and embracing mutual respect and win-win cooperation, this diplomatic notion between the world's two biggest economies has been lauded as creative thinking in state-to-state relations.

But to implement it, the two countries need to stay focused, maintain long-term perspective and manage differences between them on challenging problems like the South China Sea disputes.

If they can negotiate every whirlpool issue like this, they will navigate their relationship into much wider waters.

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