Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Australia's double standard over territorial disputes

By Wang Hui (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-09 07:47

The first two are clear, but more might need to be explained about the third similarity. While Australia and East Timor agreed a treaty in 2006 to shelve their border dispute for 50 years, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is a member, issued a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, pledging that the parties concerned should resolve their dispute through negotiations.

Nonetheless, Canberra has let hypocrisy play an upper hand and employed a double standard in the two sets of maritime disputes. On July 25, the foreign ministers of Australia, US and Japan issued a trilateral statement in Vientiane, Laos, urging China to respect the international arbitration ruling.

Canberra has also claimed it will continue to exercise the freedom of navigation under the international law in the South China Sea.

"Don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you." This is a simple doctrine in international relations, which Australia has apparently ignored when it insisted the conciliation commission has no jurisdiction over its own maritime disputes with East Timor but insisting the arbitral tribunal does have over the dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Such a practice of double standard will only erode Australia's own credibility and fuel suspicions about Australia's sincerity about maintaining sound and robust ties with China.

As a non-party to the South China Sea disputes, Australia should not meddle in the troubled waters. Canberra needs to understand an objective, independent and impartial stance towards the disputes not only serves its own interests but the larger picture of China-Australia ties.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

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