Diplomacy

Fiji doesn’t support China in maritime dispute

The Fijian government today distanced itself from China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, calling on all parties to resolve their dispute peacefully. A Fijian government statement said a media release issued by the Chinese after talks between Fijian Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and his Chinese counterpart incorrectly depicted Fijian policy towards the decades-old maritime […]

Calvin Prasad

April 14, 2016 9:30 pm

The Fijian government today distanced itself from China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, calling on all parties to resolve their dispute peacefully.

PM Bainimarama with Chinese president Xi Jinping during the latter's visit in November, 2014. (DEPFTO).
PM Bainimarama with Chinese president Xi Jinping during the latter’s visit in November 2014. (DEPFTO).

A Fijian government statement said a media release issued by the Chinese after talks between Fijian Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, and his Chinese counterpart incorrectly depicted Fijian policy towards the decades-old maritime dispute.

The statement said Fiji’s policy of strict non-alignment meant Fiji enjoyed friendly relations with all countries bordering the South China Sea.

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.

The Fijian government added:

“The facts of the matter are as follows: Fiji does not support China’s proposition on the issue of the South China Sea.”

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $US5 trillion (FJD$10 trillion) in trade is shipped every year.

The relevant section of the media release the Fijian Government clarified is as follows:

“Fiji supported China’s proposition on the issue of the South China Sea. The two sides called on parties directly concerned to stay committed to peaceful settlement of disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests through friendly consultations and negotiations in accordance with bilateral agreements and pursuant to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. International judicial and arbitration bodies should fully respect the declaration on optional exceptions made by countries under Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS). The two sides stressed that the right of sovereign states and States Parties to UNCLOS to independently choose the means of dispute settlement shall be respected and that prior consent of parties to the dispute must be sought before proceeding with any third party settlement.”

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