US stand on reef is wrong

Updated: 2014-04-03 07:55

(China Daily)

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WHEN THE US STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY Spokesperson Marie Harf accused China of making a provocative and destabilizing move by blocking a Philippines supply vessel from approaching Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea on Sunday, the United States was clearly siding with the Philippines.

True, one of China's Coast Guard ships did block a Philippine vessel from approaching the reef, but this is because China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, which include this reef.

China has the obligation to safeguard its own territory, and although the US is a treaty ally of the Philippines, it should respect this fact.

The Philippines grounded a warship on the shoal in 1999, and China has demanded time and again that the ship be recovered. But Manila has persistently refused to do this, citing technical reasons. What it is doing is making it a de facto occupier of the reef. On Sunday, with a US plane flying around the reef and Manila-invited reporters covering the scene, the Philippines made it obvious it was trying to provoke China's Coast Guard to take action. Then the Philippines would have an excuse for wooing sympathy from the international community by accusing China of bullying a smaller country. Therefore, it is the Philippine side who provokes and creates troubles.

China has maintained on many occasions that the parties directly involved in the South China Sea disputes should seek the settlement of the disputes through consultation and negotiation. And both countries reached a consensus on this. This principle has also been enshrined in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002 by China and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines.

What the Philippines is doing is undoubtedly against this principle, and it is trying to drag China into a fierce and direct confrontation.

The US should live up to its claim that it does not take sides in the disputes if it cares about peace and stability in the region.

China will neither seek development at the cost of other countries' interests, nor pursue success by harming its neighbors no matter how strong it becomes, as was emphasized again by President Xi Jinping in Europe. But that does not mean China will retreat when it comes to its territorial integrity and core interests.

The US will gain nothing by taking sides in the disputes, rather it will only shoot itself in the foot.