China calls for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes

* Beijing sends note to UN chief to clarify Xisha situation

NEW YORK: A Chinese envoy on Monday called for a harmonious maritime order, saying that maritime disputes should be settled through negotiation between the parties directly involved.
Wang Min, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, made the remarks at a meeting to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the enforcement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The ambassador said that China attaches high importance to the development of maritime endeavors. “We actively participate in international maritime affairs and call for the building and maintenance of a harmonious maritime order.”
“In building and maintaining a harmonious maritime order, all countries should uphold the principles of the convention, exercise their rights accordingly, fulfill their obligations and responsibilities with good will and ensure equal and uniform application of the convention,” he said. Wang noted that China is a staunch defender and promoter of international maritime rule of law and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. “The Chinese government believes that the most effective way to peacefully settle maritime disputes is negotiation and consultations between the parties directly involved in the dispute on the basis of respect for historical facts and international law,” he stressed.
The Chinese envoy on Monday sent a note to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, presenting documents making clear Vietnam’s provocation and China’s stance regarding the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Wang asked Ban to circulate the Chinese dossier among all UN member states as UN General Assembly documents. “China sent the note to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue,” Wang said. 
Meanwhile, a Chinese envoy on Monday sent a note to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, presenting documents making clear Vietnam’s provocation and China’s stance regarding the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. In the note, Wang Min, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, also asked Ban to circulate the documents, as UN General Assembly documents, among all UN member states. The documents included an article, released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday and titled “The Operation of the HYSY 981 Drilling Rig: Vietnam’s Provocation and China’s Position”, as well as annexed material that proves the Xisha Islands are part of Chinese territory.
“China sent the note to tell the international community the truth and set straight their understanding on the issue,” Wang told reporters here after delivering China’s second note to the UN chief on Vietnam’s provocative actions on the sea. The first note was sent to Ban on May 22. He noted that the actions of the Vietnamese side, which illegally and forcefully disrupted the Chinese operation, were serious infringements upon China’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, grave threats to the safety of Chinese personnel and the HYSY 981 drilling rig, and gross violations of the relevant international laws, including the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf. “Such actions also undermined the freedom and safety of navigation in these waters, and damaged peace and stability in the region,” Wang added. The Chinese envoy stressed that Xisha Islands are an inherent part of China’s territory, over which there is no dispute. Wang quoted the documents as saying that, prior to 1974, none of the successive Vietnamese governments had ever challenged China ‘s sovereignty over the Xisha Islands. “Vietnam had officially recognized the Xisha Islands as part of China’s territory since ancient times,” he said. “This position was reflected in its government statements and notes as well as its newspapers, maps and textbooks.” But now, Wang noted, the Vietnamese government goes back on its word by making territorial claims over China’s Xisha Islands, which is a gross violation of the principles of international law, including the principle of estoppel, and the basic norms governing international relations.
Wang also underlined that China is a staunch force for maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and promoting cooperation between and development of countries in the region. He went on to say that China wants good relations with Vietnam, but there are principles that China cannot abandon. Wang reiterated that China urges Vietnam to bear in mind the overall interests of the bilateral relations and peace and stability in the South China Sea, respect China’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, immediately stop all forms of disruptions of the Chinese operation and withdraw all vessels and personnel from the site, so as to ease the tension and restore tranquility at sea as early as possible. “China will continue its effort to communicate with Vietnam with a view to properly addressing the current situation,” he added.

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