A senior Chinese admiral strongly defended his country’s activities in the South China Sea Sunday, restating Beijing’s sovereignty in the region and warning it “had no fear of trouble.”
Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, addressed the tensions resulting from overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an annual conference on security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sun said that the issue had “become overheated because of provocations of certain countries for their own selfish interests.” He also reiterated that Beijing would not recognize a pending decision of an international tribunal in The Hague in a case brought by the Philippines contesting China’s claim to some territory in the region.
“We do not make trouble, but we have no fear of trouble,” he said. “China will not bear the consequences, nor will it allow any infringement upon its sovereignty and security interests or stay indifferent to the irresponsible behavior of some countries in and around the South China Sea.”
Overlapping territorial claims
Numerous countries have rival, overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all dispute the sovereignty of various island chains and surrounding waters, which has triggered a number of flashpoints and standoffs in recent years.
The U.S. has protested China’s shows of force over the issue and has sent warships and aircraft carriers through the region to assert what it claims is its freedom of navigation and overflight.
On Friday at the Shangri-La Dialogue, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned China was at risk of “erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation” if it continued with its policies in the region.
Carter’s stern words for China over South China Sea
Sun appeared to be referring to the U.S. in comments Sunday when he criticized the actions of “some countries.”
“On one hand, they implement the so-called freedom of navigation program by openly showing military muscles in the South China Sea,” he said.
“On the other hand, they support allies confronting China, forcing China to accept and honor the arbitration award. China firmly opposes such behavior.”
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SOURCE: Tim Hume