China Restarts South China Sea Negotiations

  • China expects to reopen negotiations with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea code of conduct.
  • Southeast Asian countries have been forced to choose to establish an alliance with China or the United States.
  • China is currently facing pressure from the United States in the political, diplomatic, and military fields.

After the United States announced that it would hold talks with Southeast Asian countries on the South China Sea issue, China issued a warning to Southeast Asian countries on Thursday, asking them not to cooperate with the United States on the South China Sea issue, because the United States is the “biggest threat” in the region.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui (right) attends a symposium on the South China Sea, September 2, 2020.

Luo Zhaohui, Vice Minister of Asian and Pacific Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also announced on Thursday that China will reopen negotiations with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea code of conduct.

In fact, the two sides have started relevant negotiations since 2002, but after Beijing insisted that countries outside the South China Sea should not participate in the negotiations, the negotiations between the two sides fell into a deadlock. In recent years, Southeast Asian countries have been forced to choose to establish an alliance with China or the United States.

When Luo Zhaohui participated in a meeting organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China via video on Wednesday, he said that the United States is the source of disputes in the South China Sea. However, analysts believe that Luo Zhaohui’s strong words may not allow the Chinese government to successfully win others.

He did not propose a new way to solve the concerns of Southeast Asian countries about the South China Sea dispute. Luo Zhaohui said:

“In addition to intervening in the South China Sea issues, the United States has also established an anti-China ‘Little NATO’ alliance with Japan, Australia, and India in this region. This fully demonstrates the cold war mentality of the United States.”

Luo Zhaohui also accused the United States of constantly making provocative behaviors in the South China Sea and tried to force countries in the South China Sea to choose between China and the United States. He added:

“The controversial South China Sea will only serve the interests of the United States and its global strategic agenda. Countries in Southeast Asia must pay the price for the South China Sea dispute. The United States is the greatest threat to peace in the South China Sea and the region.”

USS America and USS Bunker Hill sailed near a Chinese research ship spotted close to a Petronas exploration vessel.

He also condemned the 2016 South China Sea arbitration based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which ruled that China does not have maritime sovereignty over the nine-dash line, and refuted China’s possible expansion of military operations in the South China Sea.

He said, “neither China nor the ASEAN countries want to turn the South China Sea into a battlefield for armed disputes. We do not want the South China Sea to become a tool for geopolitical competition.”

Zhu Feng, executive director of the China-South China Sea Research Collaborative Innovation Center at Nanjing University, told the South China Morning Post that China is currently facing pressure from the United States in the political, diplomatic, and military fields.

He said, “as the US presidential election is approaching, Trump, who is in trouble in the United States, is trying to reverse the election by expanding confrontation with China, but this approach will increase the risk of conflict in the South China Sea.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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