World / Asia-Pacific

China, US need to manage differences over South China Sea: experts

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-06 18:32
WASHINGTON  -- China and the United States need to manage their differences over the South China Sea issue, as they are bracing for an arbitral court's ruling, experts said Tuesday.

One week ahead of the July 12 ruling over the South China Sea case initialed by the Philippines, a group of former Chinese and American officials and experts on international law and foreign relations held a dialogue in Washington to discuss the ruling's legality, possible reactions and its implications on the China-US relations.

In a keynote speech at the dialogue held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Dai Bingguo, former Chinese state councilor in charge of foreign affairs, reiterated that China will not accept the ruling because the tribunal under the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction over the case.

Noting the rising tensions in the South China Sea as the United States steps up its pressure on China to abide by the ruling, Dai issued a call for cooling down the issue, warning otherwise it could lead to unexpected accidents and even chaos in the region and Asia.

At the same time, Dai bluntly warned any party against trying to enforce the court ruling or force China into its implementation. Particularly, the Philippines should be dissuaded from making further provocations.

Dai also urged China and the United States to manage their differences constructively, demanding Washington scale back its "heavy-handed intervention" in the South China Sea issue.

He reaffirmed that, despite all the negative factors, China remains committed to peaceful settlement of the South China Sea disputes with concerned parties through negotiations.


Most experts attending the dialogue praised Dai's speech for clarifying China's position ahead of the court ruling, while echoing Dai's call for cooling down the temperature of the South China Sea for the sake of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.

The speech "certainly reinforces a very clear position that China has taken on the issue for a while, (and) there is a continued offer for cooperation," said Rodger Baker, vice president of strategic analysis at the Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm.

Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a US think tank, said it "is the time for diplomats and politicians to exercise cool judgment and try to find ways to keep the issue from exploding into something more dangerous."

Paal told reporters that both China and the United States can do a lot more to cool things down and related parties in the dispute can "find ways to manage the arbitration award, and to keep it from becoming a source of additional tensions and conflicts."

Stapleton Roy, former US Ambassador to China and a senior fellow at the Wilson Center, told reporters that Dai gave a "very detailed and comprehensive statement of China's view on the issues in the South China Sea."

He agreed with Dai's call for cooling down the situation, noting it's important to resolve territorial issues peacefully through negotiations instead of threats or use of force.

"China and the US should work collaboratively on this issue. I think that's very important point also," Roy commented on Dai's remarks.

Brendan Mulvaney, associate chair of the Languages and Cultures Department of the US Naval Academy, told Xinhua that he did not expect the US reaction to the court ruling to be very aggressive because it is not a claimant to the territorial dispute.

At the same time, he expected China and the United States not to take "any super aggressive steps" to worsen the situation.

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