Heard in the Hutong: Beijingers on the South China Sea

Jul 29, 2016 / wsj.com

On July 12 an international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and said that China’s claims to historic and economic rights in most of the South China Sea have no legal basis. Beijing says the ruling is “null and void,” and there has been patriotic anger directed at the ruling on Chinese social media sites. We went into the streets to ask Beijingers what they think about the events.

Yu Sunliang
37, entrepreneur, Beijing

What do you think of the ruling on China’s claims in the South China Sea by the arbitration tribunal in The Hague?

This is actually a game among countries, so what we know about this issue is very limited. As a Chinese, I will totally support my country’s decision.

Some critics say China is bullying some of its neighbors in the South China Sea. Do you agree with that?

China has always called for peace, thus I think our activities in the South China Sea must have been prudently considered. I don’t think we are bullying some of our neighbors.

Since the ruling, there appears to have been a rise in nationalist sentiment on China’s social-media sites. Have you noticed that and do you have an opinion about it?

There is nothing wrong with being a patriot, but I think we should express such feelings through rational and proper ways, because sometimes negative sentiments spread faster than positive ones. I think being a real patriotic person means you work well in your own field and don’t do things that may tar the country.

How do you think China should deal with the ruling and the disputes?

We should flex our muscles or go back to negotiations. Just like making friends with others, we can be tolerant most of the time, but at the crucial point, we shall manifest our attitude.

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