Beijing Gives A Warning
Over South China Sea Dispute
Speaking at a special briefing on the dispute, Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said China is willing to take into consideration constructive comments and criticism from relevant countries.
Each year, more than $5 trillion in maritime trade passes through the South China Sea’s energy-rich waters. China claims almost all of the sea to be historically part of its territory and in recent years has been aggressively creating artificial islands there to bolster its position, including the building of airstrips. But the waterway is also crisscrossed by claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Last month, the Group of Seven (G-7) advanced economies issued a statement supporting arbitration, voicing their “strong opposition to any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions.”
China has said the disputes are being exaggerated. At the same time, it has been stepping up its rhetoric ahead of an international ruling on its claims in a case that the Philippines lodged against Beijing in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The ruling is expected in the coming weeks and is likely to favor the Philippines.
Ouyang said that since the case is about sovereignty and maritime delineation, the court has no right to hear the case. Ouyang went on to state that from China’s point of view, the Philippines has been "illegally occupying" Chinese islands from the 1960s.
The U.S., which has criticized Chinese construction and creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea, is perceived to be backing Manila.
"I think the U.K., Australia, and other Western countries are willing to stand firm on their principles on this matter. I am doubtful they will back China or even remain silent," Glaser said, adding that "China needs the U.K., Australia and other nations just as much as they need China."