Stop actions threatening China’s sovereignty: China tells US

Chinese Defense Minister General Chang WanquanKUALA LUMPUR: Amid tensions over the South China Sea, China today warned the US not to take “dangerous actions” that threatens its sovereignty and security interest, days after an American destroyer patrolled the disputed area.

Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan today met his American counterpart Ashton Carter on the sidelines of ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus to discuss steps to scale down tensions in the South China Sea (SCS).

He asked the US not to take further “dangerous actions” that threaten China’s sovereignty and security interests.

Chang said that during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US in September, Xi agreed with his US counterpart Barack Obama on continuing efforts in building a new type of major country relations between the two countries, reaffirming the correct directions for future development of China-US ties.

He said both countries should work on the implementation of the consensus between the two leaders and push forward the development of military ties in a constructive manner.

Referring to the sailing of guided missile destroyer USS Lassen through the islands and reefs claimed by China, he said that China firmly opposes US action of sending a navy vessel without its authorization into waters adjacent to the islands of Nansha/Spratley, threatening its sovereignty and security interests and undermines regional peace and stability.

China claims sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea which is firmly opposed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The five countries are backed by US in staking their claims countering that of China.

The islands in the SCS have been China’s territory since ancient times and are the heritage of the Chinese ancestors, and China has no need to demonstrate its sovereignty over the islands by construction, he was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

As the SCS serves as an important sea-lane for China’s economic exchange with the outside world, China has more need than other countries to maintain its peace, safety and stability. This has never been a problem with freedom of navigation in the SCS, and no countries should threaten the interests of the others with the excuses of freedom of navigation, Chang said.

He said the issue of the SCS concerns China’s core interest and its people and military will not allow anyone to infringe on the country’s sovereignty and related interests.

Chang reaffirmed China’s unwavering commitment to keeping peace and security in the SCS, solving disputes peacefully by bilateral negotiations between the parties directly involved and safeguarding national sovereignty, safety and development interests.

Carter, who has been maintaining that US will continue to fly and sail through the SCS to assert freedom of navigation, said Washington attaches great importance to the US-China military relations, and is willing to enhance cooperation between the two countries in all areas. Carter said US wants to maintain high–level exchange of visits, keep dialogue and communication, explore cooperation in cyber security, and deepen understanding and trust between the armies of the two countries.

He said the US supports security cooperation mechanisms like the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus, and backs the efforts to jointly build a peaceful and stable regional security environment.

He said the US doesn’t take sides in the territorial dispute in the SCS, hoping all sides can implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the rules of related international laws.

As the military ties are an important part of the overall China-US relations, the military and defense departments of both sides bear the responsibility to implement the consensus reached between the two leaders, deepens exchanges, increase mutual trust, avoid misjudgment and join hands in maintaining the overall China–US relations as well as promote regional peace and stability, Chang added.–PTI

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