How the West bends the truth in the South China Sea

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 8:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2018, 8:03am

At the memorial service held for Republican senator John McCain, former US president Barack Obama praised him for, among other virtues, not “bending the truth to suit political expediency”.

I’m afraid such bending of the truth is exactly what some Western powers are guilty of, in challenging China’s right to exercise sovereignty over the South China Sea archipelagos, the Spratlys and the Paracels.

The archipelagos were specifically referred to in the treaty of peace between Japan and the Republic of China in 1952. The Rand McNally maps in 1947 labelled the Paracels as “China”.

In 2016, an international tribunal went to great lengths to bend the truth, ruling that none of the features in the Spratlys qualified as an island – not even the self-sustaining Taiping Island – in order to strike down the validity of the nine-dash line.

Watch: The South China Sea dispute explained

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The nine-dash line was never meant to be a territorial boundary. So, striking it down in no way negates Chinese sovereignty over the archipelagos. China has never denied innocent passage to foreign aircraft and ships, even within the territorial waters and airspace of the archipelagos, which is what freedom of navigation is about.

Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen