China envoy warns vs US ‘meddling’ in SCS dispute
MANILA, Philippines — Beijing’s top diplomat in Manila on Monday urged Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member-countries to be on “high alert” over what he claimed is the United States’ “intensified meddling” in the South China Sea dispute.
“While China and ASEAN countries (are) working very hard on managing the South China Sea issue, we have to be on high alert that the United States as an external force has also been intensifying its meddling in the South China Sea,” Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said in a recent interview with a local newspaper, a transcript of which was emailed to reporters on Monday.
In what he branded as “distorting” remarks of two top US officials, Huang claimed that the US is attempting to “sow discord between China and other littoral countries.”
“It seems that the US is determined to translate the South China Sea issue from a pure territory and maritime dispute into a geopolitical game,” the Chinese envoy said.
Huang accused the US of “flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region” under the pretext of preserving stability.
The Chinese envoy further said that under the pretext of endorsing rules, the US it is using the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to attack China while refusing to ratify the Convention itself.
“Under the pretext of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight, it is recklessly infringing on other countries’ territorial sea and airspace and throwing its weight around in every sea of the world… Against such a backdrop, I think China and its South East Asian neighbors should properly resolve disputes and prevent them from being capitalized on by the US to sabotage stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called as “non-negotiable” the historic ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague on July 12, 2016, which invalidated China’s expansive claims over the entire South China Sea.
The decision also upheld the Philippines’ rights over its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the UNCLOS.
In response, the Chinese Embassy in Manila claimed that the PCA ruling was “illegal and invalid.”
Huang reiterated the embassy’s statement, saying that China’s position on the SCS issue has been “consistent and clear-cut.”
He said China “has always been committed to resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation with countries directly involved, managing differences through rules and mechanisms, and achieving win-win results through mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Huang said the situation in the SCS has “stabilized” due to the “joint efforts” of China and Asean countries, including the Philippines.
“China and ASEAN countries have agreed to conclude the COC (Code of Conduct) at an early date, a goal we are confident and determined to achieve,” he said.
“Once concluded, the COC will provide China and ASEAN countries a rule-based framework in managing the South China Sea issues, which will contribute greatly to trust-building, peace and stability in the region,” he added.
“No external interference can distract or sabotage our efforts,” the Chinese ambassador further said.
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