Roughshod over China's rights

Updated: 2014-06-23 07:30

By Shen Dingli(China Daily)

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While an ADIZ may not be based on international law, it is the US that started the practice with the launch of its first ADIZ as early as 1950. The US has to withdraw its own ADIZs before it can tell China to do so. China's East China Sea ADIZ covers the airspace above the Diaoyu Islands, and this was a logical move as the ADIZ was partly a response to Japan's "nationalization" of the islands in 2012 and subsequent US threat that it would "defend" Japan's illegal control of them through US-Japan bilateral arrangement rather than international law.

China respects the EEZ rights to which others are entitled, but in joining UNCLOS in 1982, China made proper reservations due to its historical rights in the region. Any country has a right not to accept a certain part of an international treaty, or not to accede to it at all, and China has made its position clear from the beginning. China has not violated those parts of UNCLOS that it has not accepted. So why is the US, which has not ratified this convention, entitled to tell China to observe the UNCLOS, to which China has already expressed its reservations?

UNCLOS is meant to delineate maritime economic interests among nations, not to judge sovereign disputes at sea. It is the UN system, rather than UNCLOS, which should tackle those fundamental sovereign issues, such as US sales of weapons to Taiwan, American "preemption" of Iraq, as well as the aggression of Hanoi and Manila in the South China Sea. Notably, the US is completely silent on these matters. Washington has pointed accusing fingers at Russia for Moscow's military actions in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014, but it ignores its own aggressive actions regarding Taiwan and Iraq.

America's hypocrisy over international norms and laws, though hurting Chinese, Iraqis and many others, will certainly and eventually undercut its self-professed legitimate and fair global leadership. It is high time Washington reflected on this.

The author is a professor and vice-dean at the Institute of International Affairs, Fudan University. He is also the founder and director of China's first non-government program on arms control and regional security at Fudan University.

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