On May 8, 2012, Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deng Zhonghua received the interview on the issue of Huangyan Island by Moderator Anthony Yuen of Phoenix Satellite TV's News Talk. Deng introduced the background of the Huangyan Island issue and China's position and policy proposition. He stressed that the Philippines should return to the right track of seeking diplomatic solution to the Huangyan Island issue. The following is the text of the interview.
Yuen: our standoff with the Philippines on the Huangyan Island issue has lasted nearly a month. According to the latest developments, it seems that the Philippines has no intention to solve the issue and things are getting intensified. Yesterday Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying summoned the charge d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in China. Here we would like to note that it has been almost one year that there is no Philippine ambassador to China. The ambassador appointed by its new President Aquino was not approved by the Congress. That's why until now they have had no ambassador but only a charge d'affaires to China. Yesterday, Fu Ying for the third time summoned their charge d'affaires to express our serious concern about the issue. We have also made it clear that China is ready to take the necessary measures if the matter continues to worsen.
Under such circumstances, people familiar with diplomacy know that China is trying its best and, to put in a more popular way, China hopes that the Philippines wakes up to the danger at last moment. If they don't, we will take necessary measures. Therefore, today we are very glad to have Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deng Zhonghua here to give us a detailed analysis of the developments over the past 29 days or almost one month from a legal point of view. Mr. Deng, the Philippines repeatedly claims that Huangyan Island belongs to its territorial waters and in fact it has been taking actions accordingly very early on. The Philippines claims that Huangyan Island is its territory, but the whole world knows this argument is very far-fetched. Could you tell us what is wrong with the Philippines from the standpoint of law and jurisprudence?
Deng: thank you, Mr. Yuen. It is undisputable and crystal clear that Huangyan Island is China's territory. Talking about this, I would like to say that a lot of historical facts fully prove Huangyan Island is Chinese territory. Several hundred of years ago or even one thousand years ago, the Chinese have engaged in activities in the Huangyan Island waters. It is recorded in the Chinese history and I do not need to elaborate on this. But I want to say that all the previous naming of the islands in the South China Sea by the Chinese government includes Huangyan Island. For example, the Chinese government announced the naming of the South China Sea islands in 1935 and the naming of Huangyan Island in 1947 and 1983. In the form of legal act of the government, the naming itself proves that Huangyan Island is Chinese territory. The maps published by the Chinese government in all ages contain Huangyan Island. This is the first point.
On the other hand, Huangyan Island for generations has been a traditional fishing ground of the Chinese fishermen. For example, according to a recent report, fishermen in Hainan (Qinmen Town) always call the Huangyan Island waters their ancestor waters. They have been fishing there for generations. What's more, Chinese people from all sectors also go to Huangyan Island often to conduct scientific researches and install radios, etc. There are lots of these activities. That's why I say it is an undisputable fact that Huangyan Island is China's territory.
In addition, let's look at the Philippines. The Philippines for a very long period of time has publically stated that Huangyan Island is not its territory. In 1990, the Philippine Ambassador to Germany said clearly in a letter to the German radio amateurs that Huangyan Island is not the territory of the Philippines. I believe Mr. Yuen must know that the comment, especially the written document of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of one country to another represents the official stance of his or her country. Furthermore, in 1994, an official document of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources also clearly stated that Huangyan Island is not the Philippine territory. Then, when did the Philippines begin claiming that Huangyan Island is its territory? It is after 1997. But even after 1997 all the official maps published by the Philippines do not include Huangyan Island in its territory, even the 2006 map.
Yuen: here we have a 2006 map you mentioned. This is the whole map. I would like to ask our cameraman to slowly zoom in. Right here we can see Huangyan Island on the left side. The cross line in the middle is the Philippines' so-called border line. It is 128 degrees east longitude.
Deng: 118 degrees.
Yuen: 118 degrees. Along this line, the right side is the territory of the Philippines and the left side is our Huangyan Island. In other words, this map published by the Philippines itself…
Deng: its official map…
Yuen: shows that Huangyan Island is neither the possession nor in the territorial waters of the Philippines.
Deng: it is not the territory of the Philippines.
Yuen: we can say that until now the Philippines has been making trouble out of nothing. This place is not yours and your official map indicates that. Well, now Aquino not only says this place belongs to the Philippines but also gives it a new name, right?
Deng: so I want to say that even the 2006 map does not include Huangyan Island in its territory. It proves that for a very long period of time the Philippines publicly and formally announced Huangyan Island is not its territory. It started taking legal actions to claim that Huangyan Island is its territory in 2009 when it amended its law of territorial sea baseline. Now, as the Philippines stirs up trouble on Huangyan Island, it has been calling the Island different names, even sometimes using the name of Huangyan Island itself. It has officially come up with a name for Huangyan Island in a rush. I think that the act itself is ridiculous and exactly proves that Huangyan Island is China's territory rather than the territory of the Philippines.
Yuen: people who know anything about the international law will know that your claim of territory should have international recognition. As far as you know, is there any country in the world recognizing the Scarborough Shoal reef which is in fact the Huangyan Island?
Deng: so far I've not seen any country recognizing that Huangyan Island is the territory of the Philippines. I've not heard any country making such a statement.
Yuen: we have read in the newspaper that some people, including its minister of foreign affairs said that China, as a big country, bullies the Philippines. They claim that Huangyan Island is their territory. Our acts in the past showed that we bullied them. You have been involved in handling this crisis from the very beginning. Has China bullied the Philippines?
Deng: after hearing this news, I am very puzzled and very confused. Why does the Philippines claim that China bullies it? I want to list several facts. The incident took place on April 10. The Philippines' warship blocked the lagoon within the Huangyan Island. Their armed soldiers boarded the Chinese fishing boat which was conducting normal operations within the lagoon and forced the Chinese fishermen to take off their shirts under the sun for more than 2 hours. So, is this the case of China bullying the Philippines?
After the Chinese fishermen reported to our relevant departments, we immediately sent government ships, specifically the Chinese marine surveillance and fishery administration ships to the site. Our ships went there to protect the life and property safety of our fishermen. They exercised the maximum restraint and avoided further deterioration of the situation. Moreover, our marine surveillance and fishery administration ships are civil vessels. What they were faced with was a 3000-ton warship which at present is the biggest warship of the Philippines. Is this the case of China bullying the Philippines?
Third, the Philippines has been taking a very tough attitude towards this incident since it took place. Its senior government officials, including senior military officials, have been making very aggressive, irresponsible and even wrong statements on this issue to mislead the Philippine people. Is this a case of China bullying the Philippines? Meanwhile, during this period of time, the Philippine government has been encouraging the Philippine media to hype up the unfriendly mood towards China. Mr. Yuen, you might know that recently there have occurred several demonstrations against the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines. It is understood that the Philippines will launch even larger scale of demonstrations against Chinese embassies and consulates around the world. They even said publicly that they will make China lose face on this matter. Is this the case of China bullying the Philippines? I tell you the fact because I hope the Chinese and the Philippine people and the international community know the truth and are not misguided by the wrong and misleading statements.
Yuen: Mr. Deng, in the past month, from the Philippine President Aquino to the Philippine foreign minister, they have made a lot of remarks. From the perspective of a media practioner, some remarks are simply intolerable. For instance, the Philippine foreign minister lately said in the US that they will make China "pay a heavy price" on the Huangyan Island issue. As you said just now, the Philippines has done many such things lately. We have to ask that what do you think is the reason and the intention of the Philippine government?
Deng: after the Huangyan Island incident happened, we immediately lodged solemn representations and strong protests to the Philippines, demanding it to immediately stop violating China's sovereignty and damaging the life and property safety of Chinese fishermen and fishing vessels in China's Huangyan Island waters and at the same time asking its vessel to leave the waters immediately. In the process of handling the issue, the Philippines repeatedly said it hopes solve the matter through diplomatic channels and expressed such hope publicly. But what is the actual situation? Based on what has happened over the past more than 20 days, we feel that they have no intention to solve the issue through diplomatic channels but pursue the opposite direction, which, as I have already said, can be proven by what the Philippines has been doing during this period of time. As Mr. Yuen said earlier, we have seen very strong words and deeds on the Philippine side. It encouraged its people, including overseas nationals, to launch protests and demonstrations in front of the Chinese embassies and consulates and said it will make the Chinese people "lose face". Furthermore, it also vowed to suspend diplomatic dialogue with China over the Huangyan Island issue. In fact, after April 25, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs suspended diplomatic contact.
Yuen: what does this mean? We call them and say we want to meet them, but they turn us down?
Deng: the Philippines publicly declared to suspend diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on the Huangyan Island incident. Moreover, over the past more than one year, the Philippines has not sent ambassador to China. Therefore, it on the one hand claims that it hopes resolve the issue through diplomatic channels and on the other hand unilaterally declared cessation of diplomatic dialogue. I wonder how exactly it is going to solve the issue through diplomatic channels. On the contrary, some of its remarks and behavior have further complicated and escalated the situation. Therefore, we have been observing and trying to figure out the intention of the Philippines. Does it intend to solve this issue peacefully as soon as possible or to further complicate and escalate it to the extent of impacting the bilateral relations and even peace and tranquility in the South China Sea? We do not know.
Yuen: the Philippines has sent out a lot of confusing messages lately. Aquino said yesterday during an interview by the Philippine newspaper that the Huangyan Island issue has two dimensions. One is political and the other is commercial. In the commercial dimension, the Philippines can cooperate with China to develop oil or natural gas in that area jointly. What is the purpose of saying this? Any commercial behavior should be based on the political status quo. The political status quo is that China has the sovereignty over this place and development or not is China's call. Joint development shall not be decided by the Philippines, right?
Deng: you are right, Mr. Yuen. On this issue, I do not understand what the speech of the Philippine President yesterday means. We have made it very clear to the world and also to the Philippines that Huangyan Island is China's inherent territory and we have full sovereignty over it. We can certainly cooperate with the Philippines in related waters, but we must be very clear on the issue of sovereignty.
Yuen: the Philippines said the day before yesterday that typhoon is coming and its marine police ship may leave the waters and return back after typhoon passes. According to your judgment, does this statement mean that the Philippines is looking for the opportunity to climb down or is it because typhoon is really coming. Is there any warning about typhoon off the coast of the Philippines?
Deng: I'm not in a position to judge the consideration or intention of the Philippines behind this statement. But as far as China is concerned, I have said that Huangyan Island is China's inherent territory and there is no dispute over that. The Huangyan Island waters are the traditional fishing ground of the Chinese fishermen for generations. We fished, fish and will continue to fish in the Huangyan Island waters just like our ancestors. The life and property safety of the Chinese fishermen and their fishing boats must be guaranteed, their personal dignity must not be insulted and their normal fishing operations cannot be disturbed or blocked.
Therefore, our government vessels will continue to provide services for and administer our fishing boats in the waters. We also demand that the Philippine side shall neither further disturb or harass our fishermen and fishing boats nor obstruct or block the operation of our government vessels.
Yuen: in other words, we have clearly told the Philippine authorities that this place is my territory and in my territorial waters. In the future, if our fishing boats, marine surveillance ships or fishery administration ships are disturbed, we will fight to the end.
Deng: we certainly do not want to see that happening, but it is totally legitimate that our own fishing boats and fishery administration ships conduct activities in our own territory. Of course we want to maintain our legitimate rights. It is our territorial sovereignty and legitimate right and interest. We must safeguard our legitimate rights and interests.
Yuen: during this period of time, the whole country, regardless of government, civil society or academic community, has been paying close attention to this matter because it has gone beyond our endurance. What on earth does the Philippines want? Therefore, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying made it very clear yesterday when summoning the Philippine charge d'affaires that we have to take the appropriate actions if our patience runs out. Of course, we do not want to make this hypothetical prediction. But if China takes further actions, what will these specific measures be?
Deng: as you said, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying yesterday comprehensively elaborated to the Philippine charge d'affaires the position of the Chinese Government on the Huangyan Island issue and our views about the future. I would like to take this opportunity to tell our audiences that China and the Philippines are close neighbors only separated by a strip of water. We have a history of more than one thousand years of friendly exchanges. In terms of history, culture or even ties of blood, we are just like distant relatives. In fact, since the Tang Dynasty we have had exchanges with the Philippines. Such exchanges and contacts between China and the Philippines, especially the business, cultural and social exchanges are becoming closer and closer. It should be said that we have one thousand reasons to maintain and develop such traditional friendly relations between China and the Philippines without any single reason to sabotage such relations. We should engage in win-win cooperation. This should be the situation we expect.
It is based on such a consideration that we have exercised the maximum restraint to handle the issue although the Philippines humiliated with force the unarmed Chinese fishermen. We still hope to properly deal with this issue with the greatest sincerity and patience together with the Philippines through diplomatic channels so as to resolve it appropriately as soon as possible and bring peace and tranquility back to the Huangyan Island waters. Meanwhile, we also hope the Philippines return to the correct diplomatic channels and work with us to solve this issue properly.
Yuen: a lot of international media have analyzed the intention of Philippine President Aquino. He certainly knows that the Philippines' military power is not comparable to that of China. He hopes to get the promise of the US. After he held a so-called 2+2 meeting with the US last week, he was told by the US side that the US would not take any position on this issue. We have one minute left. Could you tell us whether the US has made any gesture to China as far as you know?
Deng: on April 30, the US and the Philippines held a 2 +2 meeting between their foreign ministers and defense ministers. After the meeting, the US publicly stated its attitude toward this issue. According to the US, it takes no position on the territorial issue in the South China Sea. That is to say, it holds no position on the territorial dispute over Huangyan Island. But we have noticed that the US expressed hope for a peaceful solution. It should be said that China holds the same idea on this point.
Yuen: yes, we always have hope for peace.
Deng: we always hope to solve the dispute peacefully and properly, no matter in the past or at present. We are making efforts continuously and hope to appropriately solve this issue together with the Philippines.
Yuen: well, thank you, Mr. Deng very much for your introduction today. We can see that according to official point of view China does not want any armed or intense conflict in this place. We hope to solve the issue peacefully, but we must warn the Philippines sternly that China will not turn a blind eye if the situation escalates or the Philippines takes other illegal or irrational moves.
Deng: I have said that we will do our utmost to solve this issue with the greatest sincerity and patience. On the basis of safeguarding China's territorial sovereignty and related rights, we will work with the Philippines to find a solution.
Link to the interview: http://t.cn/zO8tww2