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Clearing The Air On Our Position On The South China Sea

The clarification by Government about Fiji’s position on the South China Sea controversy demonstrates unequivocally our sturdy and clear foreign policy. Government has clarified a media release issued in Beijing
16 Apr 2016 11:20
Clearing The Air On Our Position On The South China Sea
fijisun.com.fj

The clarification by Government about Fiji’s position on the South China Sea controversy demonstrates unequivocally our sturdy and clear foreign policy.

Government has clarified a media release issued in Beijing after talks between our Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his Chinese counterpart. A statement said this “incorrectly depicts Fijian policy towards China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.”

Government has made it clear that Fiji does not support anyone’s position on the controversy in the South China Sea.

Rather, it says: “In line with our policy of strict non-alignment, Fiji enjoys friendly relations with all countries bordering the South China Sea, including China. We also believe in the strict adherence to and enforcement of international law.

“In relation to the South China Sea, Fiji calls on all relevant parties to resolve any territorial disputes by peaceful means under international law.”

This has shown that Fiji is consistent in its foreign affairs policy of non-alignment even in dealing with a world super power and close friend like China.

This emphatic statement sends a clear message to the international community that we will not be forced into a foreign policy position by anyone. The Bainimarama Government has worked hard since 2006 to show that Fiji no longer dances to the Australian/New Zealand/USA foreign policy tunes as some other Pacific Islands nations do.

The same applies equally to all countries, including our good friends in China.

There is a possibility that China might have misinterpreted or misunderstood the deliberations.

Whatever happened it is good that Government came out and cleared the air by restating our foreign policy. It should not damage the friendly relations between our two countries.

China has been one of our closest allies since the 2006 takeover. It stood by Fiji when traditional allies like Australia and New Zealand deserted us and instituted punitive measures.

Fiji’s principled stand is based on our recognition and respect of the sovereignty of individual nations and international law. A number of sovereign states in the South China Sea region are locked in territorial disputes with China over the Spratly and the Paracel Islands and the maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin and other areas. They include Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia.

Fiji has relations with many of these. Even if not on the same scale as China, nevertheless Fiji respects each of them, in the spirit of our foreign policy.

The complexity and sensitivity of the territorial disputes were highlighted by the outcomes of international efforts to resolved them.

The disputes were high on the agenda of the US-ASEAN Summit in February this year. A declaration after the summit failed to mention the South China Sea. It called for “respect of each nation’s sovereignty and for international law.”

Another important development took place last month. Philippines President Benigno Aquino set up a National Task Force for the West Phillipine Sea to secure the state’s sovereignty and national territory, the preservation of marine wealth in its waters and exclusive economic zone, reserving use and enjoyment of the West Philippine Sea exclusively to Filipino citizens.

More developments are expected from other players.

From Fiji’s perspective, our position is one of integrity. It is right because it ticks all the boxes in international diplomacy. And shows we walk the talk.

NEMANI DELAIBATIKI

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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