Symposium held in Washington, DC to calm tensions in South China Sea

CCTV News

Symposium held in Washington, DC to calm tensions in South China Sea2

An international peace center in Washington, D.C. hosted a symposium on the disputed area in the South China Sea. But can they calm tensions swirling ahead of a key court ruling at the Hague next week?

CCTV’s Jessica Stone reports.

Symposium held in Washington, DC to calm tensions in South China Sea

Symposium held in Washington, DC to calm tensions in South China Sea

An international peace center in Washington, D.C. hosted a symposium on the disputed area in the South China Sea. CCTV’s Jessica Stone reports.

For centuries, it has been a sea of peace. But now Chinese and American analysts fear the South China Sea could be the backdrop for military conflict.

Chongyang’s Institute for Financial Studies co-sponsored this dialogue with the U.S. Carnegie Endowmen for International Peace in Washington, D.C. The goal was to calm tensions in the South China Sea.

The symposium comes just one week before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague decides a case the Philippines filed against China – over the disputed Nansha islands in the South China Sea.

Manila and Beijing have repeatedly tried to bilaterally resolve their claims to the archipelago, known as the Spratly’s in the Philippines.

But the Philippines took China to court in 2013.

The five judge panel will decide whether disputed territory in the South China Sea claimed by both countries are features or islands. Features can only claim territorial waters of 12 nautical miles off their shores. Islands can claim up to 200 nautical miles.

“In all likelihood, it reduces China’s claims on territorial seas from the shores of these islands,” Rodger Baker of Stratfor East Asia Policy said.

“Either way , they belong to China. It doesn’t matter whether they are rocks or low-tide elevations,” Wu Shicun of South China Sea Institute said.

Shicun said China’s historical rights to the South China Sea date back more than 22,000 years. China began using the so-called nine dash line on maps in 1946.

U.S. warships have begun sailing through parts of the South China Sea – they said to protect freedom of navigation through important trade routes. But Beijing accuses them of ratcheting up tensions here.

If the Hague rules that China has been violating the Philippines rights to fishing, mining and military exercises near the contested islands — Beijing worries that other countries will also take China to court. It remains to be seen how China will react to next week’s ruling. It has already said it does not believe the court has jurisdiction.


Liu Zhiqin discusses the South China Sea dispute

For more on the South China Sea drills and disputes, CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke to Liu Zhiqin, senior fellow at Renmin University of China.