China-U.S. ties should not be marred by South China Sea issue: experts

Source: XinhuaEditor: Dong Zhaohui
2016-07-19 04:22

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The United States should stop meddling in the South China Sea issue to keep its relations with China on the right track, experts have said.

Widely deemed as one of the most important relationships in the world, the China-U.S. ties have recently been overshadowed by the South China Sea issue, in which the United States is not a direct party, experts said here during a two-day international security forum that ended Sunday.

The World Peace Forum, an annual event that groups hundreds of political figures, scholars, experts and journalists from across the world to discuss major security issues, was co-organized by Tsinghua University and the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs.

"The U.S. flexing of military muscles in the South China Sea has deeply hurt the Chinese people," said Chen Xiaogong, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

Last month, the United States deployed two aircraft carriers in seas east of the Philippines and started monitoring the South China Sea with guided-missile destroyers, a few days before a law-abusing ad hoc tribunal issued an ill-founded award on the South China Sea arbitration case, unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government.

U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed China to accept the award sweepingly siding with the Philippines and denying China's long-standing historic rights in the South China Sea.

The award was excessive in its vitriol towards China's presence in the South China Sea, said Chen, who just concluded a tour to the United States, adding that it seems as if Washington had already known the results of the arbitration before the award was issued on July 12.

Meanwhile, he said, although quite a hotspot in recent media coverage, the South China Sea issue simply cannot represent the overall relationship between China and the United States, whose significance has stretched out the realm of bilateral ties.

With critical issues on the agenda such as global economic growth and climate change, it is a collective responsibility for both China and the United States to properly manage their relations, he noted.

Yuan Peng, vice president of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that despite the two countries' continued cooperation in such areas as economy and diplomacy, the South China Sea issue has garnered most attention of the public and media.

Echoing Chen, Yuan called on China and the United States to properly handle the issue.

"The ball is not in our court," he said, adding that the United States should "show sincerity" by not sitting behind the absurd arbitral farce of the South China Sea.

Foreign experts attending the the forum, themed "the Order of Common Security: Cooperation, Inclusiveness, and Open-access," also agreed on the urgency and significance of properly managing the China-U.S. ties.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Robert Carr, who is now leading an Australian thinktank, said at a panel dedicated to the South China Sea issue that the United States should not view the topic as a matter of competition for leadership, dominance and primacy against China.

Even if the United States tries to maintain its allies within the region, he said, defining the South China Sea issue as a matter of competition would generate more conflicts with China.

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