(Asahi: July 23, 2015 – p. 11)
Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a think tank affiliated with the Chinese government, responded to an interview with reporters from the Asahi Shimbun and other media outlets on July 21 in Washington where he was visiting. Wu spoke about the Chinese side’s territorial claim in the South China Sea. The following is main excerpts from the interview:
Question: Will China restart its landfill work in the South China Sea in the future?
Wu: No. The government has completed landfill work in seven sites. It will build facilities for maritime rescue and for other purposes in the future. It will take two to three years to complete the construction of a runway.
Q: The U.S. military seems to be prepared to enter an area within 12 nautical miles off reefs that China has built.
Wu: That’s a dangerous act that naturally should be prevented. A precedent must not be set.
Q: Islands on reclaimed land do not constitute the basis for territorial claims. How will China explain its claims based on international law?
Wu: China claims sovereignty over the entire group of islands. This basis of this claim is the “nine-dash line,” (which includes most of the South China Sea). China took over the control of the Spratly Islands in 1946. Once China declares the base line of territorial waters, it will become China’s territory.
Q: Shouldn’t land be the standard for the baseline?
Wu: That’s a technical issue. Experts should decide whether the baseline should be an island or a group of islands. I can’t answer the question at present.
Q: Does China plan to set an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea?
Wu: China does not need to do so for a while, unless Japan and the United States frequently conduct reconnaissance over the South China Sea. If Japan intrudes into the South China Sea by lifting the ban on the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, that will be a fresh threat to China.