China: Outside forces trying to muddy regional waters
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country has a strong resolve to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea despite attempts by external forces to “muddy the waters” in the disputed region.
According to Press TV, Wang made the comment during a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress in central Beijing on Thursday.
“China’s position is firm and consistent,” he said, adding that the country pursued a responsible approach to the South China Sea issue, aiming to protect regional peace and stability as well as the rule of international law.
China has repeatedly accused countries outside the region — often in tacit references to the United States and Japan — of trying to provoke tensions in the South China Sea while China and its neighbors are trying to resolve the matter through diplomacy.
China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital South China Sea in the face of rival claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Japan has a separate territorial dispute with China over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. China claims the uninhabited East China Sea islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and occasionally sends coastguard vessels close to them, a move that angers Tokyo.
The South China Sea waters are believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas. The US often intervenes in the regional disputes, taking the side of China’s rival claimants.
China accuses the US of deliberately stirring up tensions in a region it does not belong to. Washington accuses Beijing of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.
In January, China accused the US of violating its territorial waters when the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed near the Scarborough Shoal, which is disputed by Beijing and Manila.