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Maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea is the common aspiration of countries in the region (Bell)

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The historical trend of peace and stability in the South China Sea is irresistible, and the trend of the times for regional unity and cooperation is irresistible. Forces outside the region insist on playing geopolitical tricks in the region, deliberately creating tension and conflicts in the region, and they will end up in vain

The 25th China-ASEAN Leaders' Meeting held in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, issued the "Joint Statement Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea". This is another important consensus document reached by China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue in recent years. It demonstrates the common will and firm determination of China and ASEAN countries to eliminate external interference and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. It shows that countries in the region have full confidence, Wisdom and ability to handle the South China Sea issue well.

At the beginning of the joint statement, it emphasized that "it is recognized that building the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation will benefit all parties." Building the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation is an important goal of China's South China Sea policy, and it is also the proper meaning of deepening China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. In November 2021, President Xi Jinping attended and presided over the commemorative summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN through video, and proposed to build peace, tranquility, prosperity, beauty, and friendship. The South China Sea will be built into a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation." "A Sea of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation" was included in the joint statement issued this time, which reflects the positive response and support of regional countries for China's South China Sea policy, and also shows that China and ASEAN countries have formed a common understanding of "what kind of South China Sea to build". consensus.

The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (hereinafter referred to as the Declaration) is the first political document signed by China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea issue. The conclusion and implementation of the "Declaration" has ensured the basic stability of the situation in the South China Sea and created favorable conditions for the development and prosperity of the region and the in-depth development and comprehensive upgrading of China-ASEAN relations. Facts have proved that the Declaration conforms to the realities of the region, has regional characteristics, and reflects the greatest common denominator of countries in the region on the South China Sea issue. The joint statement issued this time reaffirmed that the Declaration is a milestone document in China-ASEAN dialogue relations, reconfirmed the content of the core provisions of the Declaration, and emphasized that under the new situation, it is necessary to increase efforts, enhance goodwill, and be comprehensive and effective. The implementation of the "Declaration" shows that China and ASEAN countries will continue to work together in accordance with the basic principles and common norms for handling the South China Sea issue established in the "Declaration" to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The joint statement reaffirmed that "disputes over territory and jurisdiction should be resolved peacefully through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned", pointing out the only way to resolve the South China Sea issue. In recent years, China and ASEAN countries have pioneered and promoted the "dual-track approach", that is, countries directly concerned resolve specific disputes through negotiations, and China and ASEAN countries jointly maintain regional stability. The "dual-track approach" fully embodies the spirit and essence of the Declaration, and has been proven to be an effective way to properly handle the South China Sea issue. China has always maintained that the countries directly concerned should resolve the South China Sea disputes through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law. This is not only in line with the spirit of the Declaration, but also in line with the principles of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Against the background of the accelerated evolution of the world's major changes unseen in a century, the regional security situation is facing profound changes. In order to maintain their hegemony, some countries outside the region have sowed discord everywhere, and frequently dispatched military aircraft and warships to show off their power in the South China Sea, causing regional countries to worry about the security and stability of the South China Sea. The South China Sea is not a "safari park" for countries outside the region, let alone an "arena" for great power games. The joint statement issued by China and ASEAN countries fully demonstrates that the historical trend of peace and stability in the South China Sea is irresistible, and the trend of the times for regional solidarity and cooperation is irresistible. Forces outside the region insist on playing geopolitical tricks in the region and deliberately creating tension and conflicts in the region, which will eventually come to nothing.

Currently, China and ASEAN countries are actively promoting consultations on the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" on the basis of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration. As long as all parties adhere to the valuable experience accumulated in the process of reaching and implementing the "Declaration", firmly grasp the correct direction of properly handling the South China Sea issue, show wisdom, and maintain patience, they will be able to achieve an early conclusion of a high-quality "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" The goal is to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

"People's Daily" (version 07, November 25, 2022)

(Editors in charge: Yuan Bo, Hu Yongqiu)

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