China’s foreign minister yesterday defended his government’s controversial policy of reclaiming land on disputed isles in the South China Sea, which has sparked regional concern, saying Beijing was not seeking to overturn the international order.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) tried to set Southeast Asian minds at ease over the country’s ambitions, but Beijing’s reclamation work on the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) underscores its drive to push claims in the South China Sea and reassert its rights.
China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called “nine-dash line” that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.
Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters that are crossed by key global shipping lanes.
China has already undertaken reclamation work on six other reefs it occupies in the Spratlys, expanding land mass fivefold, aerial surveillance photos show. Images last year appeared to show an airstrip and sea ports.
The work on the islands has become possibly the most visible sign of Xi’s more muscular form of diplomacy, even as he promises more than US$120 billion in funds for Africa, Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
Speaking at his annual news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing meeting of parliament, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said China was undertaking “necessary” construction that was not aimed at any third party.
“We are not like some countries, which have carried out ‘illegal building’ in other people’s homes, and we won’t accept unwarranted remarks about work on our own home,” he said, in apparent criticism of building by some other claimant states.
China’s stance has stoked fears in Washington, Tokyo and some Southeast Asian capitals that Beijing is increasingly trying to play by its own rules and ignore international norms, as Xi seeks a global position commensurate with China’s new economic power.
Wang said he believes that the current system needs to be updated rather than overturned, to give more say to developing countries, comparing the international order and system built around the UN to a big boat.
“Today we are in this boat, together with more than 190 other countries. So of course we don’t want to upset the boat, rather we want to work with other passengers to make sure this boat will sail forward steadily and in the right direction,” he said.
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
STRONGER DEFENSES: The announcement could be considered tacit US support for the nation’s indigenous arms manufacturing program, Joseph Wu told lawmakers Just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration on Wednesday, the US Department of State’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in Washington the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan. Reacting to the announcement, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry applauded the US move, which would help to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA states that the US should “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character … to maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort
NPP WARNING: The NPP’s chairman said that a security law proposed by Beijing means it has renounced its promise to maintain ‘one country, two systems’ in HK The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday proposed changing the law to provide protection for those seeking political asylum. China at the opening of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday introduced a draft security law for Hong Kong to ban treason, subversion and sedition, with a review expected next week. TPP caucus whip Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) said that the party is concerned about democracy advocates in Hong Kong and has taken action to support them. The party has proposed an amendment to Article 18 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例), which stipulates that the government can offer