Sat, June 02, 2012
China > China & World > South China Sea dispute

Not to make waves in South China Sea

2012-06-02 03:42:41 GMT2012-06-02 11:42:41(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Deng Yushan

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore enters volatile waters on Saturday, as participating defense officials and security scholars wade into the territorial disputes in South China Sea between China and some of its neighbors.

On the backdrop two realities are prominent: the recent escalation of tensions over South China Sea and the United States' so-called "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific. The former has shown signs of calming down, while the latter keeps rumbling on.

Ill-grounded clamors against China stemming from prejudice and misperception have also been rending the air, with some narrow-gauge critics railing at what they brand as Beijing's assertiveness and belligerence over the South China Sea issues and crying for outside intervention.

With South China Sea rolling and the Asia-Pacific landscape changing, such a sensitive moment demands sobriety, and such an intricate situation requires discipline. The indiscriminate tendency to portray China as the bad guy is not only undesirable but detrimental.

To set the record straight, notwithstanding the South China Sea rows, maritime freedom in this strategic and busy body of water has never been disturbed. The much-hyped "China threat" to the freedom of navigation in South China Sea is a pure invention.

Meanwhile, it is as naive to peddle the alleged Chinese intention to shut Asia's front door to the United States as to build a longitudinal Berlin Wall across the Pacific. Despite the mysteries surrounding Washington's shift, Beijing has conveyed its hope that the superpower would "play a positive and constructive role in the region."

As regards the South China Sea tensions, it is some other claimants, whether emboldened by the United States' new posture or not, that sparked the fire and have been stoking the flames. In contrast, China's measured and responsible response has prevented what were basically fishery matters from spiraling out of control.

Beijing's South China Sea policy is consistent. Although China has seen its political, economic and military strengths growing markedly,fabricating new claims is not in its blood. The Chinese government is committed to seeking a peaceful solution to the disputes, as vindicated by China's recent history of dispute settlement.

It is China's genuine wish to turn South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation, and the prospect is widely shared across the region and the world at large. Before that dream comes true, it serves the best interests of all concerned that they, as Beijing has proposed, shelve differences and pursue joint development.

Between that harmonious vision and the harsh reality lies a lack of trust that breeds misunderstanding, misjudgment and even misact. Therefore, the Shangri-La Dialogue and other similar security forums should serve as opportunities to boost communication and mutual trust instead of to further complicate and exacerbate existing conflicts.

That said, it is advisable for some to refrain from muddying the waters and fishing therein and for some others to desist from dancing behind a Pied Piper whose magic tone, as tempting as it is, might lead its followers astray.

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