Hong Kong: China in a fresh assertion reiterated that Beijing “has right to develop South China Sea (SCS) Islands as it deems fit” contrary to what it said earlier that it would not transform the artificial islands in the contested waters of SCS to a military base.
On March 22, China made the assertions regarding it. Recently Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry asserted that China’s deployment of “necessary national defence facilities on its own territory are a right entitled to every sovereign country and it is in line with international law, which is beyond reproach”. What China calls its “own territory” are disputed islands in the SCS, reported The HK Post.
China first declined to accept the verdict of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2016 on complaints of the Philippines and subsequently used its economic clout to pacify the complaining country, reported The HK Post.
Underneath the high-voltage assertion is a threat to other stakeholders in the SCS not to question China’s claims in the region.
In the first instance, it is a blatant lie that whatever China is doing in the SCS is in compliance with international law.
The UNCLOS tribunal had rejected China’s argument that it enjoyed historic rights over most of the SCS. China, thereafter, was expected to resolve the dispute over claims on SCS by reconciling its claims with those of other contending parties including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. China, as always, behaved in a big brotherly manner and denied the right of the sovereign countries in the SCS region.
It declined to accept righteous claims of other stakeholders on the islands as well as other marine resources including gas and oil, reported The HK Post.
The Hague Tribunal had clearly pointed out that China had violated international law by causing “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, endangering the Philippines’ ships and interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration.
However, China disregarded the UNCLOS verdict and was still continuing with its military expansionism. President Xi Jinping also refused China’s participation in the tribunal’s proceedings, reported The HK Post.
The SCS is not important only for China, but also for other countries of the region and the world as about USD 4 trillion or one-third of the global maritime trade passes through it.
The disputes involve the islands, reefs, banks, and other features of the SCS, including Spratly Islands, Parcel Islands, Scarborough Shoal and various boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The recent militarization of the islands by China despite concerns expressed by the other stakeholders not only defies international law, but reveals the strategic designs of China.