• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 7:57pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

China, neighbours must discuss disputes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 5:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 12:04pm

From a public relations perspective, China's moving its most advanced oil rig into South China Sea waters disputed by Vietnam for exploratory drilling on May 2 was a disaster. It sparked clashes between rival flotillas of boats that in turn led to protests in Vietnam in which Chinese people were killed and factories looted and burned. Tensions are likely to ease now that the platform has been towed back north a month ahead of schedule. Why it has been shifted is unclear, but what is certain is that where territorial disputes are concerned, negotiations are always preferable to unilateral actions.

A series of actions in the South and East China seas in the past year have battered China's international image. From the declaration last November of air traffic restrictions over contested maritime claims that overlapped zones put in place by Japan and South Korea, to islands disputed with Vietnam and the Philippines, to the placement of the oil rig, China has been in the unusual position of being both assertive and defensive. Overseas pressure has forced Beijing to explain its actions. Regional concerns have been heightened about China's military build-up and intentions.

The defensive posture has not always been handled well. Beijing took a month before making its case for the legality of the rig's presence. Vietnam said it was within its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone; China explained it in terms of history. The rig's removal was variously said to have been because its work had been completed ahead of schedule and as a precaution against typhoons. It may also have been an effort to head off a threat by Vietnam's prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, to file a legal challenge to the territorial claims under international law, as the Philippines has done.

Any such effort would have serious consequences. China and Vietnam are key trading partners. Their sometimes turbulent history - they fought a brief border war in 1979 - and the territorial disputes mean relations have to be handled sensitively. Agreements through talks are the best way forward.


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This article is now closed to comments

The article is correct that China must settle disputes through peaceful means.
It's no good being aggressive, which will ultimately backfire.
The 9-dash maps is historically groundless and legally invalid. Let's be absolutely clear about that.
Jonathan Smith
Can anybody negotiate with a Japan that is such a recalcitrant and devil worshipping country? Can anybody negotiate with a Vietnam which is such a violent and unreasonable country?
This editorial is characteristically scmp shallow and biased
It refers to “a public relations perspective”
that is in fact something it fabricates and propagates
and may be ridiculed if its focus is hypothetically paraphrased thus:
“Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyus was a disaster.
It sparked clashes between rival flotillas of boats
that in turn led to protests in China in which Japanese people were … “
A wise editor would have compared and given China credit
that “no Japanese people killed and factories looted and burned”
and asked: why no “overseas pressure” on Japan
to withdraw and apologize for its actions?
A Kuro
The Japanese claims their is no dispute over the illegally occupied Diaoyu Islands. The Japanese are more interested in the revisionism of their barbarous war history and praying to war criminals at the Yasukuni War Shrine and glorifying their barbaric war history. The Vietnamese despite conceding that the Paracels Islands and Spratly Islands are Chinese territory in 1958 now claims otherwise. The Vietnamese are more interested in corruption and rioting and murdering. The US is only interested in inciting Japan and Vietnam to deepen their conflicts with China. There is no way that anyone can talk with devil worshippers, rioters and m u r d e r e r s!
A Kuro, the attitude you display is exactly why these disputes are worsening and there is no solution in sight.
Yknot - constantly busy criticizing others...


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