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Beijing angry over G7 statement on sea row

/ 01:35 AM April 13, 2016

BEIJING—China Tuesday expressed anger after foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies said they strongly opposed provocation in the East and South China Seas, where China is locked in territorial disputes.

“We urge the G7 member states to honor their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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The G7 should focus on global economic governance and cooperation against the backdrop of weak economic growth rather than hyping up disputes and provoking problems, it added.

On Monday, G7 foreign ministers said after meeting in the Japanese city of Hiroshima that they opposed “any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions” in the East and South China Seas.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, and is building islands on reefs to bolster its claims. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

China also has a separate dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

China has every right to build on the Spratly Islands and there are no problems with freedom of navigation and overflight for the East and South China Seas, the foreign ministry said.

China is committed to resolving disputes through talks with countries directly involved via international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts, to maintain peace and stability while safeguarding its sovereignty, it said.

It repeated that China will neither accept nor participate in any arbitration “illegally forced upon it,” a reference to a case lodged by the Philippines against China.

“We urge the G7 member states to fully respect the efforts made by countries in the region, stop making irresponsible remarks and all irresponsible actions, and truly play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” the ministry added.

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The G7 statement issued at the close of the two-day meeting of foreign ministers said:

“We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes.

“We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions.”

The G7 also urged “all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations” and “building of outposts… for military purposes.”  Beijing indicated that it felt targeted by the comments.

“Given the sluggish global economic recovery at the moment, G7 should have focused on global economic governance and cooperation instead of hyping up maritime issues and fueling tensions in the region,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement Tuesday:

“The Philippines fully shares the G7 foreign ministers’ ‘strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions, and urge all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations including large scale ones, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and to act in accordance with international law including the principles of freedoms of navigation and overflight.’”

The DFA said that acting Foreign Secretary Jose Rene Almendras during a visit on Monday in Hanoi discussed extensively with Vietnamese officials the draft of the Philippines-Vietnam action plan to strengthen maritime security amid China’s aggressive military buildup in the disputed waters. Reports from the wires and Estrella Torres

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TAGS: China, Features, Global Nation, Group of Seven, West Philippine Sea
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