China slams US, Japan, Australia for ‘fanning tensions’

July 27, 2016 10:00 am

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
(C) speaks to reporters on the sideline of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) annual ministerial meeting and the Regional
Security Forum in Vientiane on July 25, 2016. © AFP

has lashed out at the
United States, and for issuing a joint statement on the
South China Sea, saying it was only “fanning the flames” of regional
tensions.

In a joint statement on Monday, the foreign
ministers of the three countries expressed ‘strong support’ for
Southeast Asian nations in territorial disputes with China, urging
Beijing not to construct military outposts and not to reclaim land in
the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday
dismissed the trilateral statement, questioning the trio to be
peacekeepers or troublemakers.

“This trilateral
statement is fanning the flames,” he said. “Now it is the time to test
whether you are peacekeepers or troublemakers,” said Wang, referring to
the three countries.

Wang said the move by the trio came at an inappropriate time and wasn’t constructive.
He
said that regional countries are now determined to enhance cooperation
and want to see the South China Sea situation cool down.
On
Sunday, the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose most of its members having competing claims
to the South China Sea, did not fulfill a demand by the Philippines to
mention a recent ruling on the South China Sea dispute.

Foreign
Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) gathered for a meeting in Laos, Vientiane, on July 25, 2016.
©AFPIn their communiqué, the ASEAN nations only
said they “remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing
developments” in the South China Sea.
Last month, a tribunal in
The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines, dismissing Beijing’s claims
in the South China Sea that channels more than $5 trillion in global
trade each year as illegal.
The Philippines and Vietnam both
wanted the ruling to feature in the ASEAN communiqué which threw the
regional block’s weekend meeting in the Laos capital of Vientiane into
disarray.
After hectic negotiations, the ASEAN members issued a watered-down rebuke, which did not mention China by name.
The
communiqué urged the nations to avoid militarization of the region. It
also called for freedom of navigation to be maintained in the sea.
Beijing
claims almost all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part
by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested
waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The
picture taken on July 14, 2016 shows Chinese ships putting out a fire
on a mock cargo vessel during an emergency drill in the South China Sea
near Sansha, in south China’s Hainan province. © AFPEarlier
this month, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that
China’s claim of sovereignty over disputed areas in the sea or its
resources had no legal basis and accused Beijing of violating the
Philippines’ economic and sovereign rights.
China rejected the
arbitration, saying the court has no jurisdiction over the dispute. The
country has asked the Philippines to solve the territorial issue
bilaterally.
Other ASEAN nations, including Vietnam and Malaysia, have similar competing claims in the dispute over the South China Sea.
The
sea has so far become a source of tension between China, the US, and
some other regional countries, who are seeking control of trade routes
and mineral deposits there.

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