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2015年11月 6日 (金)

南シナ海情勢 「航行の自由」確保へ結束せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Stand together to secure freedom of navigation in South China Sea
南シナ海情勢 「航行の自由」確保へ結束せよ

Concerned countries should jointly call on China, which has been using force to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea, to exercise self-restraint.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter held talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan in Malaysia on the sidelines of a meeting of defense ministers from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other concerned countries.

Carter referred to a U.S. military vessel that sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the artificial islands made by China in the South China Sea, and told Chang that the U.S. military would continue similar operations in the future.

The United States is behaving legitimately in using concrete actions to demonstrate the “freedom of navigation” based on international law.

Carter also demanded that China discontinue its reclamation and militarization of the disputed reefs for good. Chang opposed him, saying issues of the South China Sea are related to his country’s core interests. But, any action by China that undermines “freedom of navigation” for its “core interests” cannot be tolerated.

It is regrettable that the forum of defense ministers failed to adopt a joint statement.

Malaysia, which chaired the forum, stopped at simply announcing a statement emphasizing the significance of adopting as soon as possible a code of conduct that would legally bind the conduct of concerned countries.

China’s Defense Ministry blamed the United States for failure to adopt a joint statement, saying certain countries outside the region forcibly tried to include content unrelated to the discussions, but this is unreasonable.

Varying links with China

Degrees of closeness with China are different among ASEAN countries. Not a few of them support “freedom of navigation” but consider their economic ties with China important and do not want to cause any trouble with Beijing.

“Japan supports actions by the U.S. military in order to protect the order of free and open seas,” Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said during his talks with Carter. Stability in the South China Sea is also significant to secure the safety of sea-lanes for Japan.

Japan and the United States must further encourage concerned countries to take actions for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea ahead of the summit meeting of leaders from ASEAN members and other concerned countries to be held later this month.

Meanwhile, the United States maintains dialogues and the exchange of military personnel with China. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, visited Beijing recently and held talks with Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and the most senior uniformed officer of the Chinese military.

It is an urgent task for U.S. and Chinese forces to set up a hotline to avoid unforeseen accidents and clashes between their vessels and planes.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration late last month decided to hear territorial claims the Philippines had filed against Beijing that China’s artificial islands, which are built on reefs that go underwater at high tide, are not entitled to recognition as base points for claiming territorial waters.

This is an appropriate judgment because it means the tribunal rejected China’s claim that the court has no jurisdiction over disputes about territorial sovereignty.

China should sincerely participate in the trial to act in concert with the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 5, 2015)Speech


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