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US should end hype on arbitration farce

By Editorial (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-08 07:39

China means what it says. Thus when Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked the United States on Wednesday to "speak and act cautiously, and take no actions that harm China's sovereignty and security interests", Washington should take it seriously.

The message, conveyed during a telephone call between Wang and US Secretary of State John Kerry, may be interpreted as one of the last attempts by China to define its bottom line before Tuesday, when an arbitration tribunal in The Hague is due to deliver its ruling on the South China Sea arbitration case the Philippines unilaterally initiated.

Any ruling by the tribunal will be illegal, null and void from the outset, as it is exceeding and abusing its powers since it has no jurisdiction over the case.

It is a farce that should come to an end, as Wang said.

But the Philippines and the United States are expecting the upcoming ruling to go against China and are waiting to seize upon it as endorsement for them to ratchet up their infringement of China's maritime sovereignty and rights.

Once this bad precedent has been set, other claimants, encouraged by the US, may follow suit.

However, as Wang once again stressed, China remains committed to peacefully resolving the disputes through negotiations and consultations with directly involved parties, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the fundamental principles of international law and international relations.

And so far China has refrained from taking any steps that could complicate the situation. It has halted its reclamation work and it has not removed a vessel that the Philippines grounded on its Ren'ai Reef in 1999 in a bid to try and claim it.

But Wang reiterated that China is resolved to safeguard its rights that have been formed in the course of history and are solidly founded on jurisprudential grounds.

Now faced with the increasing threats that the arbitration ruling is likely to produce, China has to be prepared for all eventualities.

This is not being alarmist, it is being realistic.

The US has recently conducted two carrier strike group operations in the region, which its chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, described as a "terrific opportunity to do some high-end war fighting and training".

If the US really wants peaceful settlement of disputes through diplomatic means, as Kerry said during the phone call, it should show its sincerity with actions.

For he who ties the bell has to untie it himself.

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