YANG YOUMING, Lusaka
RECENTLY, the South China Sea issue has been a hot topic globally and many Zambian friends have been asking me about this issue. Recently, I elaborated Chinaâ€™s position on the issue in an exclusive interview to 5FM Radio.
Today, I would like to speak, once again, on the truth of the South China Sea issue and the so called South China Sea arbitration in order to ensure a correct understanding of the facts among Zambian friends.
The South China Sea islands or Nanhai Zhudao in Chinese have been Chinaâ€™s territory since ancient times. China is the first to have discovered, named, and explored the South China Sea islands and relevant waters, and the first to have exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them continuously, peacefully and effectively.
After World War II, China reaffirmed sovereignty and strengthened jurisdiction by compiling their official names, publishing maps, setting up administrative units and stationing troops. Before the 1970s, it was widely recognised by the international community that the South China Sea islands belong to China and no country ever challenged this.
The root cause of the South China Sea issue is the invasion and illegal occupation by certain countries of some islands and reefs of the South China Sea islands. In 1968, a survey conducted by an affiliate of the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) indicated rich oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea.
Since then, several countries began to occupy Chinaâ€™s islands and reefs, of which eight were occupied by the Philippines. Some countries outside the region also deliberately want to create confusion and add fuel to the flames.
China is a victim of the South China Sea issue. Nonetheless, upholding regional peace and stability, China has all along exercised great restraint, handled the South China Sea issue in a responsible and constructive manner and committed itself to resolving the relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations.
However, as a directly concerned party of the South China Sea issue, the Philippines ignored Chinaâ€™s proposal of settling the disputes through bilateral negotiations and consultations and unilaterally initiated arbitration on the disputes in the South China Sea on January 22, 2013.
On July 12 this year, the award was rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration. The Chinese government regards the arbitration as illegal, null and void, and declared that it neither accepts nor participates in that arbitration from the very beginning and has since repeatedly reiterated that position.
The reasons are: Firstly, the unilateral initiation of arbitration by the Philippines is out of bad faith. It aims not to resolve the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines, but to deny Chinaâ€™s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.
However, the territorial issues are not subject to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Secondly, the Philippinesâ€™ unilateral initiation of arbitration infringes upon Chinaâ€™s right as a state party to UNCLOS to choose on its own will the procedures and means for dispute settlement.
Thirdly, the Philippinesâ€™ unilateral initiation of arbitration violates the bilateral agreement reached and repeatedly reaffirmed over the years between China and the Philippines, to resolve relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation.
Fourthly, the Philippinesâ€™ unilateral initiation of arbitration violates the commitment made by China to remain active throughout the year and look outside the box, unlike other branches that only stir to action when there is a political activity such as a rally or by-election.
The members want Chimutengo to become a centre of excellence where political party mobilisation and lobbying for youth and womenâ€™s empowerment is concerned.
Kabwata has six wards.
Although the tree from which the branch derived its name was uprooted by the contractor tarring roads in the township, the Chimutengo has continued to operate as though the tree is still towering a cluster of watering holes in Kabwata.
and ASEAN member States, including the Philippines, in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to resolve the relevant disputes through negotiations by states directly concerned.
Regarding the Arbitral Tribunal, it is nothing but a temporary organisation established at the unilateral request of the Philippines and has nothing to do with the International Court of Justice based in Hague, Netherlands. All the five members of the Arbitral Tribunal were picked by the Philippines and its â€œfriendsâ€. One can imagine that the award by a tribunal of this kind is not at all credible.
We have a saying in China that â€œjustice will prevailâ€. Currently, over 60 countries around the world have openly declared their support to Chinaâ€™s position on the South China Sea issue. As a traditional friend of China, Zambia is one of them.
Last June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Zambia issued a statement on the issue, calling on all parties concerned to stay committed to peaceful settlement of the disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests through amicable consultations and negotiations pursuant to bilateral agreements and the provisions of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
I would like to extend, once again, my appreciation and sincere gratitude to the Zambian government.
The Chinese government reiterates that, regarding territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept any means of third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China.
In the future, the Chinese government will continue to abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations as enshrined in the Charter of the UN, including the principles of respecting state sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful settlement of disputes.
The Chinese government will continue to work with states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law, so as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and build it into a sea of peace, friendship and co-operation.
The author is Chinese Ambassador to Zambia.
YANG YOUMING, Lusaka