China warns US on problematic South China Sea

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan warns US over its activities around South China Sea and says US should not attempt to threaten China

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Chang Wanquan, Minister of National Defence of the People's Republic of China

Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan forewarned US activities on the problematic South China Sea and underlined that the US should give up attempts.

The Defence Minister also stated that China considered US naval patrol in the South China Sea as a threat against China's sovereignty and security interests last week.

Wanquan also indicated in a statement that "we urge the United States to put a stop to all its mistaken words and deeds, and not take any other dangerous moves which threaten China's sovereignty and security interests."

The US launched a naval mission last Tuesday, deploying the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen near to the two artificial islands built by China on the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea.

A senior US official stated that American warships will continue to "regularly" sail within the 12-nautical mile limit of islands built by China in the South China Sea, despite protests from China following the USS Lassen's passage near one of the man-made islets.

A still image from a US Navy video purportedly shows Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the South China Sea

China lobbies Southeast Asian nations

On the other hand, China is lobbying Southeast Asian countries to quit any reference to interested with the South China Sea in a statement to be exported following regional defence talks in Malaysia, that causes increasing tension on China's man-made islands.

According to Reuters, a senior US defense official said early on Wednesday, on condition of anonymity that "the reason is because the Chinese lobbied to keep any reference to the South China Sea out of the final joint declaration."

"Understandably a number of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries felt that was inappropriate. It reflects the divide China's reclamation and militarisation in the South China Sea has caused in the region."

The US official also added that this was an ASEAN decision, but in their idea no statement is better than one that abstains from the essential point of China's reclamation and militarisation in the South China Sea.

Earlier on Wednesday a meeting was organised and brought together the 10 southeast Asian defense ministers, with ministers from countries including Australia, China, India, Japan and the United States.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter also kept a 40-minute meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan on Tuesday and discussed the South China Sea, a third senior US defense official said.

On this controversial issue, China alleges a majority of the South China Sea which passes at least $5 trillion in global trade in each year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan that have also adverse claims

Reactions in the past

The move on last Tuesday prompted reaction in China as Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui called it “extremely irresponsible.”

Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US also described the operation as “a very serious provocation, politically and militarily.”

Another statement came from the Chinese Defence Ministry saying the patrol is a “coercive action that seeks to militarize the South China Sea region” and an abuse of freedom of navigation under international law.

However, Bill Urban, a US Defense Department spokesperson said that “the United States is conducting routine operations in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.”

“US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. All operations are conducted in accordance with international law.”

China started its reclamation campaign in the South China Sea adding almost 3,000 acres of artificial land and mere rocks barely above the water to its sovereignty saying the islands are being built for civilian purposes.

After some satellite photographs showing the construction of three military length airstrips that might be used for military purposes emerged, the US, Japan and Philippines have voiced that they are concerned by China’s expansion.



TRTWorld and agencies