By Zhong Sheng, People’s Daily

At the recent East Asia Summit (EAS), the United States once again stirred up trouble over the South China Sea issue, attempting to sow discord between relevant countries and China.

The United States has repeatedly disregarded the will of regional countries and tried to incite conflicts in the South China Sea, which further exposes the true intention of its so-called “Indo-Pacific strategy” to create divisions and confrontations in the region.

At the EAS, the United States once again pulled its old tricks, emphasizing the need to uphold “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the South China Sea and bringing up the so-called South China Sea arbitration.

The notion of “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the South China Sea is fundamentally a false proposition. The U.S. side has never provided any evidence to demonstrate which ship or aircraft from which country has encountered problems while navigating or flying over the South China Sea. It is the United States that, under the pretext of safeguarding “freedom of navigation and overflight,” flexes its military muscles and militarizes the South China Sea, posing a real threat to peace and stability in the region.

The so-called South China Sea arbitration seriously violates international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is illegal and invalid. China does not accept or recognize this ruling and rejects any claims or actions based on it, which is a legitimate measure to uphold the authority and integrity of UNCLOS.

The fact that the United States repeatedly brings up UNCLOS while refusing to join it itself reveals the country’s hypocrisy. The United States is the instigator and behind-the-scenes manipulator of the so-called South China Sea arbitration, and its repeated speculation and exploitation of this illegal ruling fully demonstrate its intention to politicize, instrumentalize, and weaponize international law.

Over the years, with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has achieved overall stability, providing a favorable environment for respective development of regional countries.

China adheres to the path of peaceful development and, as a signatory to the UNCLOS, has always worked together with ASEAN countries to handle the South China Sea issue properly based on mutual respect, in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS, and in light of the actual situations in the region.

Currently, China and ASEAN countries are actively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and promoting consultations on the DOC.

The United States, as a non-regional country, has been deliberately stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, seeking to sow discord between regional countries and China, and disrupting China’s and ASEAN countries’ efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, in order to serve its strategic attempt to contain and suppress China.

The U.S. actions violate the basic norms of international relations, go against the will of the people in the region, and run counter to the trend of cooperation. They are doomed to fail.

At the EAS, the United States deliberately deviated from the theme of the meeting, disrupted the atmosphere of cooperation, and of course received no support. Earlier, the United States claimed in a high-profile manner that the U.S. and Indonesian defense ministers issued a joint statement criticizing China’s claims in the South China Sea, but Indonesia soon exposed the U.S. lies, stating that the U.S. announcement was inconsistent with the facts. Similar situations have occurred before. It fully demonstrated that the diplomatic lies and instigation of the United States will only bring disgrace upon the country itself.

The United States has repeatedly hyped the South China Sea issue, attempting to create divisions and coerce regional countries into taking sides. However, regional countries are well aware of its intentions and generally do not want to become pawns on the U.S. hegemonic chessboard.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated that ASEAN cannot be a proxy for any country and should not be involved in great power competition. ASEAN is committed to strengthening unity and cohesion, he said.

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat also pointed out that ASEAN member states do not want to take sides between China and the United States. There will be limited support for any efforts to restrict the growth of a certain country or to reduce the presence of another in the region, because nobody wants to see a new Cold War, he remarked.

The United States should seriously listen to the voices of regional countries and fully understand that any attempt to maintain hegemonic interests through creating divisions and confrontations has no market in the Asia-Pacific region.

During the EAS, the majority of countries advocated for strengthening cooperation through constructive dialogue and friendly negotiations, aiming to create a center of regional growth.

The United States, on the other hand, aggressively intervened in the South China Sea issue, sowing discord among regional countries and disrupting the regional order.

Regional countries remain highly vigilant against the dangerous intentions of the United States and generally hope to maintain the dominant role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea, and jointly uphold regional peace, development and cooperation.

The United States’ attempts to sow discord through diplomatic means are destined to be futile.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)


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