Chinese ambassador to US addresses South China Sea dispute

World Today

China’s Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said that the U.S. and China share responsibility in maintaining international peace and stability and that China’s position on the disputed islands in the South China Sea has not changed and that China will continue to “safeguard our sovereign and maritime rights.”

Cui made the remarks at the International Conference on China-US Cooperation in Global Security Affairs that was organized by the National Institute of South China Sea Studies in Washington D.C. last week. He also said that in the South China Sea, China will exercise “best restraint in handling disputes with others.”

Watch China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai’s full speech:

“It would be totally unfair however to ask China to give up its legitimate rights and give in to the unjustifiable demands of certain parties,” Cui said. “Let there be no illusion that anyone could impose on China a unilateral ‘status quo’, and let there be no illusion that anyone could repeatedly violate China’s sovereignty without consequences.”

Together with ASEAN countries, China has proposed a “dual-track approach” on the issues in the South China Sea, Cui said.

“China and ASEAN countries share much larger common interests in overall regional stability and prosperity, the bonds that unite us are much stronger and longer-lasting than any possible difference between us,” Cui said.

Cui also said that the current maintenance and construction work that China is carrying out on some of the Nansha islands — also known as the Spratly islands, and reefs — is well within China’s sovereignty.

The main purpose is to improve the functions of facilities there so as to provide services to ships of China, neighboring countries and other countries that sail across the South China Sea. Such services will include shelter for ships, navigation aid, search and rescue, marine meteorological observation, fishery service and many others. There will also be defense facilities, he said.

“If these facilities could not even defend themselves, how can they render service to others? If China could not safeguard its own sovereignty, how can it shoulder greater responsibilities for international stability?” Cui said.