China hits back at US
An Asian security summit ended in discord yesterday after China denounced US “provocations” in the South China Sea and declared it does not fear trouble in the contested waters.
“The South China Sea issue has become overheated because of the provocations of certain countries for their own selfish interests,” Admiral Sun Jianguo told an annual forum in Singapore.
Sun, who stressed China’s desire for a peaceful solution, spoke one day after US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said any Chinese construction on an islet near the Philippines would prompt unspecified “actions” by the United States and other nations.
On a visit to Mongolia yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry also warned Beijing against setting up an air defence identification zone over the disputed waters.
“We would consider an ADIZ, an ADIZ zone, over portions of the South China Sea as a provocative and destabilising act, which would automatically raise tensions and call into serious question China’s commitment to diplomatically manage the territorial disputes of the South China Sea,” Kerry said.
“We believe that it is critical that no country move unilaterally to militarise the region,” he added.
His remarks came on the eve of a US-China dialogue in Beijing and after Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper cited Chinese army sources as saying Beijing was mulling such a zone.
China claims nearly all of the sea despite competing claims by several Southeast Asian neighbours, and has pressed its claims by rapidly building artificial islands suitable for military use.
Washington has responded by sending warships close to Chinese-claimed reefs, angering Beijing.
Rhetoric has escalated ahead of a decision at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on a case brought by the Philippines.