BEIJING – China criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday for giving tacit backing to the Philippines’ stance in a tense maritime dispute, stressing again that it rejects Manila’s attempt to seek arbitration.
The Philippines, a US ally, has angered China by launching an arbitration case with the United Nations to challenge the legal validity of Beijing’s sweeping claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.
The United States has refrained from taking sides in the dispute, one of Asia’s biggest security headaches, but has expressed a national interest in freedom of navigation through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.
Kerry told leaders at the East Asia Summit in Brunei, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, that all claimants “can engage in arbitration and other means of peaceful negotiation”.
When asked about Kerry’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that “non-parties to the dispute should respect the efforts by relevant parties involved to peacefully solve the dispute through direct and friendly negotiation . . . instead of doing things that could harm regional peace and stability”.
“I also want to add that as everybody can see, the South China Sea has been calm and tranquil, so if some country really wants to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, it should stop stirring up waves,” Hua said.
China claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea, overlapping with claims from Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. The last four are members of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (Reuters)