The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nations must pressure China to conform to intl law in S. China Sea
東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

China’s words and deeds to justify its own behavior while threatening freedom of navigation, which is based on international law, can never be tolerated. It is important to repeatedly voice to the international community over the menace and self-righteousness of the country.

The leaders of 18 countries, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia plus members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, gathered in Malaysia on Sunday at a meeting of the East Asia Summit. China on the one hand and such countries as Japan and U.S. on the other exchanged at the meeting over China’s building artificial islands and promoting the establishment of military strongholds in the South China Sea.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the need to thoroughly preserve the rule of law on the seas. With China in mind, Abe said, “A large-scale and rapid reclamation project aimed at creating a base for military purposes is under way” in the South China Sea, and The prime minister expressed “serious concern.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in light of U.S. plans to continue patrol operations by its warships within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands, emphasized the importance of the “freedom of navigation and overflight.” Philippine President Benigno Aquino and others agreed with Obama.

Japanese-U.S. joint endeavors in cooperation with other countries concerned to beef up pressure on China are indispensable for maintaining regional stability.

it must not be overlooked that China has been criticizing Japan and the United States for their involvement in the South China Sea issue, labeling the two as “countries from outside the region.”

China’s deception politics

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for “countries outside the region” to “refrain from taking actions that may cause tensions in the region.” His statement is apparently aimed at stopping the U.S. military’s patrol activities.

The task of ensuring safety in the key maritime route(sea-lane) in the South China Sea is doubtless in the interest not only of the countries bordering the South China Sea but also the international community, including Japan and the United States. China’s assertion is wide of the mark.

Although China has agreed to consult with ASEAN to formulate a legally binding code of conduct for the contested area, there are no prospects for a timeframe for the code’s completion. It cannot be denied that China is using the dialogue to buy time, with the intention of making its control over the South China Sea a fait accompli.

In last week’s summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the issue of the South China Sea was not discussed. We can see China presumably maneuvered in advance to tamp down the issue.

Early this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, with which China has had confrontations over the territorial problem, while sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Philippines, the APEC chair.

China is using an old trick to try to split ASEAN members by using its economic clout. As long as Beijing continues to use deception as an expediency and fails to stop unilateral actions based on force, it will only increase regional distrust of China.

China’s tactic of distabilizing could hurt the unity of the member countries of ASEAN, which have declared they will launch an ASEAN Economic Community toward year-end. They are seeking to create a single market with a combined regional population of more than 600 million. Japan, in cooperation with the United States, must support the development of ASEAN as a whole.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2015)