By Zhu Haiquan
China is exercising its legitimate rights by upholding the sovereignty of our islands in the South China Sea.
China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands was restored after World War II, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. But in the 1970s, certain countries started to illegally occupy some islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands.
Negotiation between states directly concerned is the only way to resolve the disputes. China has already signed border treaties through peaceful negotiations with 12 out of 14 land neighbors. The same practice should be adopted in the South China Sea.
While pursuing diplomatic resolution, China is exercising restraint. The construction activities on the islands and reefs are all for peaceful purposes and do not affect in any way freedom of navigation and overflight.
By not accepting or participating in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, China is acting in accordance with international law.
Regarding the incident raised in the editorial, our information indicates that Chinese military aircraft followed from a safe distance and monitored the American plane carrying out close reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters. Our operation was completely compliant with safety and professional standards. The attempt at intimidation by American military aircraft in the South China Sea, however, was not.
The South China Sea should not be turned into a geopolitical chessboard. We hope the United States, instead of flexing muscles, could play a responsible and constructive role to promote dialogue and negotiation.
The article was originally published on New York Times website on May 31.