Chinese general reiterates principle for solving island disputes
                 English.news.cn | 2014-06-03 01:13:52 | Editor: Mu Xuequan

Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, speaks during the fourth plenary session of the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 1, 2014, the final day of the multilateral forum focusing on security issues in Asia. (Xinhua/Then Chih Wey)

SINGAPORE, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Island or maritime demarcation disputes should be solved through coordination and negotiations between directly involved parties on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law, a Chinese general said on Sunday.

China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea were established through the long process of historical development, said Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), at the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue.

It can be traced back to over 2,000 years ago, or the Han Dynasty, when China started discovering and gradually maturing its administration over the South China Sea, especially the Nansha Islands and related sea area, Wang said.

The Xisha Islands and the Nansha Islands, both in the South China Sea, were occupied by Japan during World War II, and returned to China in 1946 under the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation.

After the return of these islands to China, the Chinese government in 1948 mapped out the nine-dash line, which is clearly marked in historical documents and world maps drawn by different countries, the general said.

China's neighboring countries never raised doubts about China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Nasha Islands, the Xisha Islands and the related sea area until the 1970s when rich oil resources were discovered in the South China Sea, he said.

China, as a signatory country to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), respects the convention which took effect in 1994. However, Wang said, China's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the South China Sea islands and islets as well as related sea waters came into being over the past 2,000 years.

The UNCLOS, which took effect in 1994, cannot re-demarcate sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction that came into being over such a prolonged period of time in history, while recognizing countries' historical rights over seas and islands and islets, Wang said.

The UNCLOS is inapplicable to the adjustment of ownership of sea islands and islets, he said. The law governing the sea is an enormous and comprehensive law system, not merely a single UNCLOS.

Meanwhile, the adjustment is also not merely subject to a single international law of sea -- there is an enormous international law system which includes the international law of sea, he said. Thus, only using the UNCLOS to argue is not workable, he said.

China has signed the UNCLOS and respects it, but the United States has not signed the convention because it feels many provisions of the convention are against it, he said.

Wang noted China's stance in this regard is coherent and clear, that is, China advocates solving the disputes over islands and maritime demarcation through direct consultations and talks with the directly-involved parties.

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