Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 20:16 | SYDNEY
Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 20:16 | SYDNEY

South China Sea: Help wanted

23 August 2010 11:31

Professor Shen Dingli is Executive Vice Dean of the Institute of International Affairs, Fudan University, Shanghai. He is one of China's most prominent security commentators.

In response to Malcolm Cook on my South China Sea blog post: Beijing welcomes everyone's help, as 'help' does no harm. But it would not count on such help, or depend on such help to resolve difficulties. To say Australia can help is to show courtesy to it, but Australia is of course not obliged to accept this proposal.

As a sovereign state, China – like all other claimants – has the freedom not to refrain from the use force to defend its claim. But China decided to refrain from doing so in principle seven years ago.

To turn the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea into an enforceable Code of Conduct, China has to be prepared to yield some of its physical claims, which is not easy by anyone's standard. However, whether or not the code is made enforceable multilaterally any time soon, Beijing shall honour what has been embodied in the Declaration, to advance regional stability and its own interests. And to this end, both constructive bilateralism and multilateralism could be at our disposal.

So, although some countries may be uninterested in helping, China would still welcome help from others.

Photo by Flickr user Thewmatt, used under a Creative Commons license.