China “will not take the first shot,” seeks to resolve maritime conflicts


China is building its self-defense army and “will not take the first shot” as it seeks to resolve conflicts with fellow claimants in the South

Beijing will “never seek hegemony or never create spheres of influence,” no matter how powerful it becomes, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said during a lunch reception for the People’s Liberation Army’s 92nd anniversary.

China has constructed artificial islands over controversial reefs and outcrops in resource-rich waters, including those claimed by the Philippines, sparking global concern.

China adopts an active defense military strategy that adheres to the concept of defense, self-defense and post-strike reaction, meaning they will not take the first shot.

Recognizing concern over liberty of navigation and overflight, Zhao said China could suffer if it is interrupted or even blocked by someone as 75 percent of food traded to and from China passes through the South China Sea.

A Chinese vessel rammed a Filipino fishing boat in June and its crew was accused of deserting 22 Filipino fishermen at sea after their ship sank close Reed Bank (Recto Bank). This triggered a new diplomatic line between Manila and Beijing.

A verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping, struck after the supposed ramming, came under close scrutiny.

Zhao said the PLA Navy escorted more than 6,600 vessels and saved more than 70 ships at risk, including Filipino vessels and seamen.

Under Duterte and Xi, the Philippines and China have raised their connection to strategic collaboration.

Cooperation in the South China Sea is increasing momentum, and Beijing is committed to peace and stability.

China will continue to work with the Philippines and other directly interested States to resolve the appropriate conflicts in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiations and consultations on the grounds of respect for historical facts and in accordance with international law, which also involves UNCLOS.

UNCLOS relates to the Sea Law Convention of the United Nations.

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