US told: ‘No one has the right to instruct China what to do’
Beijing has hit back at US criticism of its land reclamation operations around the Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), saying, “No one has the right to instruct China (on) what to do.”
Observers warned that Washington is playing with fire as it has adopted an increasingly high profile over the South China Sea situation in recent months. Last week, China drove off a US navy P-8A surveillance plane that flew near China’s Nansha Islands on a reconnaissance mission.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter called on Wednesday for a halt to construction by all parties in the South China Sea and an end to the militarization of the dispute.
Carter said US military aircraft and warships will continue to operate in the region wherever permitted under international law.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the United States has made a number of comments about China’s construction work on the Nansha Islands while it “chooses selective silence” toward those who illegally occupy Chinese islands.
“(The US) is either accustomed to taking double standards or has other intentions,” Hua said, urging Washington to avoid any “alienating or provocative words and actions”.
Hua said the overall situation in the South China Sea remains stable, but some countries are attempting to pick fights and others are supporting them by adding fuel.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the US armed forces have been “directly interfering” in the situation recently after allies such as Japan and the Philippines failed to respond to Washington’s earlier calls for a joint patrol in the South China Sea.
Zhang said the US double standards have been highlighted after China clarified that when the construction work is completed the islands will be open to the international community for use in activities such as search and rescue. “(The US) aims to contain China,” he added.
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said “Washington is trying to force Beijing into a corner” as it is misinterpreting China’s construction projects on the islands. The US wants to “shape a stronger presence of itself in the region”, Ruan added.
Hua urged Washington to think seriously about the Asia-Pacific region, saying, “Does it ultimately serve US interests if chaos overwhelms the region, a major engine of world economic growth?”
Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, has dismissed accusations that China is sabotaging freedom of navigation and the ecological environment in the South China Sea.
“No one cares more than China about the ecological preservation of islands, reefs and sea areas,” Ouyang said in an interview earlier this week.
Jin Canrong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Washington is making the situation a hot topic and seeking to internationalize it.
“The biggest factor behind this is its anxiety” because “the US is not as confident as it was,” Jin said.
Washington is comforting and appeasing its allies “because they also have some concerns about whether the superpower is reliable or not”.
The seventh China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held in Washington next month.
Jin said some observers see US actions in the South China Sea as a bargaining chip for Washington.
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