Beijing: China on Monday maintained that it has no intention to militarize the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and would remain supportive of efforts between China and other sovereign nations to bring peace and stability in the area.
However, Yao Wen, China’s foreign ministry deputy director general for policy planning of the Department of Asian Affairs, expressed concern over the navigation activities of countries outside the region in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that could possibly lead to conflict.
“China will never seek militarization of the South China Sea but we are worried of the so-called freedom of navigation activities conducted by relevant countries,” Yao said during a meeting with Asian journalists.
He said there are instances when military vessels and aircraft of other countries come as near as five to six nautical miles in islands where Chinese personnel are stationed. These ventures, Yao said, are highly dangerous as they could lead to misjudgment and conflict.
“That is something we were worried about. If there is certain conflict, China, the Philippines as well as other countries within South China Sea will be affected,” he added.
To prevent untoward incidents, Yao said countries outside the region should respect the efforts of China and countries in Southeast Asia in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
“We should support and play constructive role in the process, not the opposite,” he added.
Yao said the Philippines and China remain to be friendly neighbors and have managed to get rid of the “shadows” in the recent years and are now on the path of sound and steady development.
The visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in China last year and his attendance during the belt and road forum as well as the scheduled visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in November for the East Asia summit in the Philippines clearly indicate that exchanges between the two nations have commenced, he noted.
Yao said the maritime dispute “will always be there” but what is important is the two countries sought proper ways to manage the problem.
“China and the Philippines have done a lot of groundbreaking work in this respect. The basic position of China is to shove differences for common development,” he added.
China is also consistent in its position to uphold the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC)in the South China Sea and would not waiver on its position that relevant maritime issues should be peacefully resolved through negotiations, the official added.
The DOC, entered between the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China, calls on all claimants to exercise restraint and stop new occupation of areas in the South China Sea.
“The relations between China and the Philippines are affected by the South China Sea issue. If properly managed, we could enjoy sound and faster development but if not, there will be setbacks,” Yao said.
Meanwhile, high-ranking government officials, Party leaders, and military officers as well as grassroots Party members will convene Wednesday for the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The meeting, which is held once every five years, provides the Party an opportunity to explicitly declare which policies it upholds and which path it will take in the next years.
It also provides a chance to review what the nation has achieved under the leadership of the Party and General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi is expected to deliver a report on the committee’s work in the past five years and to present the future direction of the Party and country.
In 2012, Xi promised to provide the people of China better education, stable jobs, higher income, reliable social security, trustworthy healthcare, improved housing conditions and a nicer environment.