Home / China / Top Stories

Cui calls US 'hypocritical' on island issue

By Chen Weihua in Washington Zhang Yunbi and Li Xiaokun in Beijing | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-10-28 11:23

China ambassador says patrol violates laws of the sea

Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the United States, said on Tuesday that the US operation in South China Sea is "a very serious provocation, politically and militarily."

China said on Tuesday that two of its navy warships sent out warnings after the US sent a guided-missile destroyer to patrol within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese island in the South China Sea. It said the warnings had been sent "in accordance with laws".

Cui told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that it was a clear attempt by Washington to militarize the region.

"It is a very absurd and even hypocritical position to ask others not to militarize the region while one's self is sending military vessels there so frequently," he said.

"We have to make sure we have sufficient means to safeguard our sovereignty there, to protect our lawful rights there, to maintain peace and stability there. And nobody will have more illusion to continue to provoke."

Cui said what the US did is totally against provision, the letter and spirit of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, to which the US is not yet a party. "We have a last-standing sovereignty over the islands of the region and waters surrounding them. It's not something based on so-called man-made facilities and features there," Cui said.

"Whatever is happening now won't change our position on the sovereignty in the region, will not weaken our determination to safeguard our sovereignty, will not weaken our commitment to seeking a peaceful solution to the disputes with countries concerned, and will not weaken our position and commitment to developing a healthy relationship with the US," he said. "But this is a two-way track. We have to have the reciprocate actions from the US."

Ministry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement issued on Tuesday night that Beijing "will take all necessary measures to safeguard its own security", and has lodged solemn protests to the US. The missile destroyer Lanzhou and cruiser Taizhou of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy sent the warnings to the US ship, Yang said.

"Although Washington, as the world's leading maritime power, wants to assert robust maritime rights in the South China Sea, there are better, less confrontational ways to make that point," he said.

John Negroponte, the former US deputy secretary of state and former US ambassador to the UN, said that the two world's economic powers should sit down and talk about these things.

"The more dialogues we have the better. I am always in favor of as much dialogue with China as possible," he said.

Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the Chinese warnings were based on international law and were made "within the scope of regular practices and were very professional".

The US action - quite near to Chinese territory - threatens not only the country's sovereignty "but also the security of facilities and Chinese personnel stationed on the island", Zhang said.

Lu, the spokesman, said China monitored, followed and warned the Lassen. The country "will staunchly defend its territorial sovereignty" and "resolutely respond to any country's deliberately provocative actions", he said.

The incident came after Washington challenged Beijing over its dredging projects on some Chinese islands.

Lu said construction activities undertaken by China on its own territory are an internal matter and will not block other countries' legal freedom of navigation and overflight.

"China resolutely opposes any country using freedom of navigation and overflight as a pretext for harming China's national sovereignty and security interests," Lu said.

He expressed "strong discontentment" and "resolute opposition" over the US patrol and called on Washington to "immediately correct its wrongdoing" and abide by its promise not to take sides on the South China Sea issue.

The US patrol comes just weeks before Asia-Pacific summits that are expected to be attended by President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama.

Xi made it clear in late September after a meeting with Obama in Washington that China had no intention of militarizing the islands in the South China Sea.

Zhang Yunling, director of the academic division of international studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US is flexing its muscle to show its people, the region and the world that it will not fall behind as China grows stronger.

Some US pundits saw the situation differently.

"What the US has done is not to violate Chinese sovereignty, but it is what the US does all over the world, and that is to go where it is legal to do so," said Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies and director of the Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Paal expects the US Navy has done and will do the same for Vietnamese, Philippine and other low tide elevations (LTEs) in the South China Sea that he said have no 12 nautical mile limit under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"I hope Chinese leaders and people will respond coolly and unemotionally to these activities, and not be driven by dramatization in the media or by some commentators," he said.

Yin Zhuo, head of the Information Technology Commission of the PLA Navy, said there is no foundation in international law to support the intrusion by the Lassen.

Wang Xu contributed to this story.

Contact the writers through

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349