The United States has stepped into bilateral disputes in the waters surrounding China, criticising Beijing’s move to establish a city in the South China Sea and lending veiled support to other claimants.

Washington has, time and again, affirmed it does not take a position on the competing sovereignty claims over the South China Sea, but has a national interest in maintaining the regional peace and stability.
The well-polished rhetoric has been undermined by its actions.

It made a fuss about the establishment of Sansha city, an affair within China’s sovereignty, saying it "remained concerned" about the "unilateral" move. Meanwhile, it turned a blind eye to a spate of provocative acts by other countries, such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

This has rendered its claimed even-handed stance less convincing, damaging the credibility of US foreign policy.

It has also repeatedly urged countries embroiled in maritime disputes to play by international laws and relevant rules.

By promising Japan necessary security support in the event of an armed attack on the Diaoyu Islands under a mutual security pact, the United States has blatantly defied the international norms which it always requires others to respect.

Emboldened by the US posture, Japan said it would consider dispatching its Self-Defence Force in response to disputes over the islands in the East China Sea that belong to China.

Both China and the United States have long proclaimed a shared commitment to a "positive, cooperative, and comprehensive US-China relationship."

Recent episodes have cast doubts on whether Washington is ready to implement the stated objectives, as its acts appear designed to hem in Beijing rather than explore a possible evolution of the relationship.

Such an adversarial approach, however, risks dragging the United States into another quagmire in the South and East China Sea, and is also detrimental to regional peace and stability.

A handful of renowned strategists, including Henry Kissinger, have long pointed out the United States can not take root in the Asia-Pacific region without effective cooperation with China, which means if the U.S. Asia-Pacific policies distance the country from China they are doomed to be short-lived.

Washington would do better to keep its words by genuinely and determinedly pursuing cooperative relations with Beijing and growing into a force conducive to regional peace, instead of poking its noses into other countries’ domestic affairs and playing upon bilateral maritime disputes for its own interests.

China has officially set up the city of Sansha on Yongxing Island in the southernmost province of Hainan.
Luo Baoyou, Party chief of Hainan province, said in a keynote speech that Sansha was established to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
The city government is located on the 2.13-square km Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha Islands group.
Wei Qiqiang, a 61-year-old fisherman on the island, said fishermen used to live in huts made of wood panels when he first arrived on the isolated island in 1979.
The island has now taken the shape of a city with infrastructure including a small military airport, a seaport, roads, a clinic, a post office and an observatory.

Wang Chunyan, an employee of the Xisha Supermarket, said she moved from Haikou, capital of Hainan, to Yongxing Island at the beginning of the year, as she foresaw good business prospects on the island.

The 21-year-old woman said her father had been working on the supply ship for more than 20 years. She has become familiar with the island, and did not worry about the living conditions there before she came.

However, to most locals, the trouble of living on the island is the lack of medicare services. But this problem should be solved after the New Xisha People’s Hospital is completed. It is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Huang Liangshan, a local fisherman, said he expects to soon see tourists wandering the city’s streets.
"I will set up a small restaurant serving sea food after tourists are allowed to visit. It will make my fishing hauls sell better," said the 32-year-old fisherman who has been living on the island since the age of 19.
His family of seven live in a wooden house, which has all necessary home appliances including a TV set which receives satellite programmes, telephone, fridge and air conditioners.

The newly elected city government has planned to make tourism one of three economic engines for the development of Sansha city, besides fishing and oil and gas exploration, according to Xia Jie, the city mayor elected on Monday.

The former head of the Hainan Provincial Agriculture Department said the first Sansha municipal government will be devoted to administrative management, economic development, people’s livelihoods and environmental protection in the coming five years.

SOURCE: thecitizen.co.tz

 
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