Monday, October 19, 2020

Why China is angry with Botswana

Incensed by what it believes to be Botswana’s ignorance on issues surrounding a series of disputes with her neighbours over unresolved claims to the South China Sea, the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone reacted by reproducing China’s position paper  on the issue.  

Botswana’s official position condemning China was in a press statement brought to the Chinese Embassy’s attention through a questionnaire from the Sunday Standard.

In the press release Botswana Government stated that “No country, no matter how big its economy or military should impose its power over others to make claims, which may escalate tensions that could result in conflicts.”

Despite China condemning Botswana Government’s failure to adopt a diplomatic approach in addressing its concerns about South China Sea, the Southern African country says it stands by its press statement.

The South China Sea is home to a string of messy territorial disputes, with China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam wrangling over the sovereignty of island chains and nearby waters.

China states in its position paper reproduced by the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone and passed to the Sunday Standard that its position on South China Sea is clear and consistent over many decades.

“Our position has not changed and will not change. China has ample historic and legal basis for its sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters,” reads China’s position paper.

China said it was the first to discover, name, develop and operate on the Nansha Islands. It said it is also the first country that exercised and has been exercising sovereign jurisdiction over the islands, which has been long recognized by the international community including the Philippines.

“China resolutely safeguards national territorial sovereignty, sovereign rights and interests, and remains committed to maintaining regional peace and stability. With a view to upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea, China have exercised utmost restraint over the past years,” the position paper states.

China said its approach toward solving the South China Sea issue is to have direct dialogue and negotiation between claimants, which is more effective and sustainable.

“China’s basic proposition is: we seek to peacefully resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This position will not change,” said China.  

The Asian power states that through friendly consultations, China and ASEAN countries have developed a full set of mechanisms to properly handle the South China Sea issue.

“First, the issue shall be resolved through a dual-track approach, which means specific disputes should be addressed peacefully by parties directly concerned through consultation and negotiation,” China said.

China explained that this is stipulated in Article 4 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and it is also a joint commitment by China and the 10 ASEAN countries.

The dual-track approach also means that peace and stability in the South China Sea shall be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries. Second, the parties shall implement the DOC in good faith and work toward a Code of Conduct (COC) through consultation.

“Now, smooth progress has been made in implementing the DOC, and COC consultation is also moving forward. In less than two years since

the beginning of the consultation, we have already adopted two lists of commonalities, started consultation on “crucial and complex issues”, and agreed to establish two hotline platforms which will be up and running soon,” China said.

China says it has taken the initiative to propose the formulation of “preventive measures on managing perils at sea”. On this new platform, various parties may put forward proposals and ideas for discussion.

“China always stands for peaceful settlement of disputes through diplomatic dialogue and negotiations, and China’s way of addressing disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests through bilateral consultations and negotiations has proven effective,” China stated.

 As a matter of fact, China said it has properly settled land boundary issues with 12 countries and completed the delimitation of maritime boundary in the Beibu Bay with Vietnam.

 China says it will continue to follow its current practice and will not accept arbitration as a way to settle disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests.’

In essence, China says, it is the victim of the South China Sea Issue.

“The core of the South China Sea issue rests with the territorial disputes on islands and reefs, and overlapping claims on maritime rights and interests in waters of the South China Sea, which are caused by the illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands by some coastal countries,” China said.

China says it has all along been committed to resolving disputes with its neighbours over territory and maritime jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations.

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