The “dual-track” approach China has put forward is the best way to solve disputes in the South China Sea, experts said.
The approach, which Premier Li Keqiang outlined while addressing the leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Nov 13, would peacefully resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation, based on international law and respecting historical facts, between the countries directly concerned. Peace and stability in the South China Sea would be jointly upheld by China and ASEAN countries working together.
The approach helps avoid the intervention by countries outside the region of the South China Sea, barring intervention that would further complicate the disputes, said Zhu Feng, executive director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies.
“It’s a consensus between China and its maritime neighbors to solve disputes through bilateral consultation and negotiation. It’s what we have been doing for a long time,” said Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the department of boundary and ocean affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Basing the practice on how China solved boundary and ocean disputes with other countries, as well as international practices, bilateral consultation and negotiation, is a way that the government and people in the countries directly concerned find most acceptable, and the way that triggers the least shock and is most viable,” he said.
Yet such issues concerning sovereignty, which are often political and emotional, are unlikely to be solved overnight, so it is urgent to get such disputes under control, said Zhu Feng, executive director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies.
“China and ASEAN have a history of good cooperation. They can expand on their socioeconomic cooperation to the safety of the South China Sea,” he said.
The approach shows that China is able to keep peace and stability in the South China Sea and is sincere about doing so, said Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.
“It responds to the concerns over the region’s safety and stability by countries outside the region as well as ASEAN countries,” he said.