南シナ海 中国進出の抑止は国際連携で

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 19, 2010)
Intl cooperation vital in South China Sea
南シナ海 中国進出の抑止は国際連携で(8月18日付・読売社説)

China is using its powerful navy to aggressively advance into the South China Sea, a key junction of international sea-lanes. The United States and countries in Asia are increasingly wary of China's moves.

The U.S. Defense Department said Monday in its annual report to Congress that "current trends in China's military capabilities are a major factor in changing East Asian military balances," referring to its moves in the South China Sea.

Japan also cannot overlook China's moves given the fact that it relies on marine transportation for imports of 90 percent of its energy and 60 percent of its food. The government must deepen cooperation with the United States, Vietnam, India and other countries concerned to resolve the problem.

Territorial disputes

The South China Sea, dotted with more than 200 islands and reefs, including the Spratly Islands, is the stage for several territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries.

In recent years, China has been causing friction with other countries by dispatching its warships in the area on the pretext of protecting its fishing boats.

China is currently building a large submarine base on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. A recent series of such moves can be interpreted as the country's attempt to bring the entire South China Sea under its control, not only for the sake of protecting its interests in oil and maritime resources but also for military reasons, such as to deter any possible intervention by U.S. forces in the event of an emergency involving Taiwan.

China has used the expression "core interests" in regard to its sovereignty and territorial integrity when it refers to Taiwan and Tibet. Recently, the country said it considered the South China Sea part of its "core interests" as well, a move that underlines concerns over China's possible intentions behind its latest moves.

The South China Sea is crossed by vital international sea-lanes that connect the Middle East with the Northeast Asia. No country can be allowed to make exclusive moves in the area. We strongly urge China to restrain itself.

Multilateralism a must

Vietnam and other Asian countries are calling on China to resolve territorial disputes through multinational negotiations. But China is unwilling to relax its position that countries claiming sovereignty should separately hold bilateral negotiations.

However, if territorial disputes develop into military conflicts, they would significantly affect all countries that use the area's sea-lanes. Given that, it will be reasonable to hold multinational negotiations among countries with interests in the area to discuss ways to ease tensions and measures to build trust.

It may also be a good idea to take up the issue at the East Asia Summit, which the United States also plans to join.

In order to persuade China to sit down for multinational negotiations, it will be essential for countries sharing concerns to cooperate with each other.

The Japanese government launched dialogues on a strategic partnership with India at the end of last year and with Vietnam last month, with the participation of both foreign and defense authorities. We urge the government to proactively take advantage of such dialogues and promote joint actions to alleviate tensions in the South China Sea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 18, 2010)
(2010年8月18日01時43分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-08-19 04:36 | 英字新聞

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