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Spotlight: China never a bully in South China Sea: experts

Updated: 07 04 , 2016 15:09
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BEIJING, July 4 -- At a time of heightened tension in the South China Sea, Washington and its allies have launched publicity campaigns against China, repeatedly using the "bully" tag to refer to China and its activities in the region.

The groundless accusation, however, has been refuted by experts, who pointed to the fact that China has never bullied any country in South China Sea disputes. Instead, it has exercised restraint to the greatest extent possible over this issue.


"China has never bullied the smaller claimants on the South China Sea issue," said Xu Liping, a senior research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Instead, it turns to safeguarding its sovereignty through the international rules and relative laws," Xu said.

The expert stressed that, instead of being a bully, China is actually the biggest victim in South China Sea disputes.

"China has never exerted its strengths to change the regional status quo, and its infrastructure construction has been carried out on its own islands instead of grabbing others," said Xu.

As many experts have observed, China has all along stood for peaceful settlement of territorial disputes through negotiation. It has dealt with the South China Sea issue in a constructive way, and always kept the doors for dialogue open.

However, without prior notice or exchanges, the Philippinesfiled for international arbitration over its disputes with China.

"The tribunal case regarding this case will only complicate and internationalize the South China Sea issue, which will forge a blatant betrayal of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002," Xu said.

Ever since its initiation of the arbitration in early 2013 in the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Manila has closed the door for negotiation and has taken a series of provocative moves that infringed upon China's legitimate rights and interests.

Solely in March, the Philippines allowed the United Statesto have military access to five bases near the disputed waters with China under the renewed defense pact with Washington. It also leased military aircraft from Japanand obtained fighters and surveillance radars from South Korea.

According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Philippine military planes blatantly violated the airspace above the reefs of China's Nansha Islands for more than 50 times in 2015 alone.

"Is it how a big country bullies the smaller countries? Or is it the opposite?" Wang said in February in Washington.

In the interests of peace and stability in the region, China has exercised the utmost restraint, but nobody should doubt China's will to safeguard its core interests.

As a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry put it, "China will never bully small countries, but we will in no way tolerate a small country making up excuses and hurting China's interests."

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