The East and South China seas have been eventful in 2012 with several of China's neighbors stirring up sovereignty issues. Laudably, China has responded firmly but with restraint

Beijing has tried to send a clear signal to the world. That is, its resolve to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and marine rights and interests is unshakable. So, too, is its peaceful diplomatic policy to be a good neighbor and a good partner to its neighbors.

Incidents involving islands in China's territory have popped up one after another, mirroring a deep and complex change in today's world diplomacy.

In April, Philippine warships harassed and assaulted Chinese fishing boats and fishermen around the Huangyan Islands, violating China's sovereignty and stirring up trouble.

In June, Vietnam passed a law to include China's Xisha and Nansha Islands in South China Sea within Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction, a unilateral invalid action that complicated the issue.

The move also betrayed a consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The Diaoyu Islands issue erupted after the Japanese government announced its decision in September to "purchase" part of the Diaoyu Islands, echoing the islands-purchasing motion initiated in April by Japanese right-wing politician Shintaro Ishihara.

China-Japan relations faced their most serious challenge in the 21st century as Tokyo betrayed the consensus reached between leaders of older generations of the two countries and blatantly challenged the post-war world order.

At least two factors lie behind these islands "troubles." One was that the countries involved unilaterally betrayed their consensus with China and took action to escalate the issue; and the other was that the United States played an active role behind the scenes.

Over the past year, Washington has taken advantage of the islands issues and rapidly pushed ahead its strategy to refocus on the Asia-Pacific region, while the other countries took the opportunity to complicate and internationalize the issues with an attempt to "fish in troubled waters."

China has never bowed to external pressures. The troubles only inspired the Chinese government's and people's firmness in safeguarding territorial sovereignty and marine rights and interests.

This year, the Chinese government has engaged with strength and restraint at various levels, through various channels and in various forms, displaying its excellent diplomatic wisdom.

In the South China Sea, China established the city of Sansha to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and surrounding waters to counter the provocations.

China sent marine surveillance ships to patrol the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands. This is now turning into a routine operation with aerial surveillance support. The move has broken Japan's so-called "actual control" over the islands.

With facts and reasoning, China has actively elaborated its stances over the South China Sea issue on various diplomatic occasions and taken moves which effectively helped win support of the international community and world opinion.

Beijing has issued a white paper on the Diaoyu Islands, announced baselines for the territorial sea of the Diaoyu Islands, and presented to the UN Secretariat its Partial Submission Concerning the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 Nautical Miles in the East China Sea.

China has always followed the principle of not worsening its internal and peripheral situations when handling the issues and safeguarding its sovereignty.

On the Huangyan Islands issue, China has always been restrained and does not advocate the use of force. In the Diaoyu Islands waters, China has only deployed surveillance ships and aircraft.

It has been and will be further proved that China's marine strategy is for peaceful development. The report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has charted that China will always take the road of peaceful development and advocate the spirit of mutual trust, inclusiveness and learning from each other, cooperation and win-win outcomes in international relations.

China's strategies of safeguarding marine rights and interests and building a marine power are aimed at neither marine expansion nor marine hegemony, but at easing troubles and making concrete contributions to peace, development and prosperity in the whole region.

The revitalization of the Chinese nation can't be realized without the vast blue ocean. The time calls on China to remain firm, calm and rational, catch and create a new period of strategic opportunities, and work with the peripheral countries and the international community to turn the Pacific Ocean into an ocean of peace, cooperation and harmony.


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