China Should Uphold International Law to Win Support from Regional States
By Carlyle A. Thayer (People's Daily Online), August 02, 2014
How to Convince Regional States That China Has “Indisputable Sovereignty” Over the South China Sea?
China’s top policy makers must have come to realize that China’s efforts to convince regional states that it has a firm claim to “historic rights” and “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea has been less than successful. Since China has already settled many of its land border disputes with its neighbours, including Vietnam, the question arises why has China been so unsuccessful in resolving maritime territorial disputes with Southeast Asian states? Why have these disputes resulted in confrontation leading to rising tensions? This article offers ten modest proposals that if implemented would result in a sea change in regional attitudes towards China. China would benefit by upholding international law. First, China should accept that all regional states genuinely welcome China peaceful rise. No state wants to confront China or even to contain it. Many states, like China, experienced colonialist intervention in their affairs. Therefore China should revisit the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and sincerely apply these principles in its diplomatic relations with regional states. It is important that China and small states treat each other with mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non- interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. Second, China should reaffirm its adherence to international law and the Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China should ensure that all its