China: US, Japan, Australia playing up tension over sea

China slams statement released by allies urging sides abide by Hague court’s South China Sea ruling in favor of Manila

China: US, Japan, Australia playing up tension over sea

World Bulletin / News Desk

China’s foreign minister has accused the United States, Japan and Australia of “playing up” regional tension after their top diplomats released a joint statement expressing “serious concerns” over the South China Sea.

A statement from China’s Wang Yi said Wednesday that the trilateral statement “is fanning the flames” at a time when “regional countries are determined to enhance cooperation and want to see the South China Sea situation cool down.”

Beijing claims sovereignty over around 90 percent of the resource-rich sea, while other Asian nations have their own claims.

China's reclamation work in the region has prompted the U.S. and its allies to express alarm over the maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.

On July 12, an international court in The Hague ruled that Beijing's claims to areas of the sea have no legal basis in an arbitration launched by the Philippines, whose “sovereign rights” it said China had violated.

China, which has long insisted that the court lacks jurisdiction over issues of sovereignty and maritime delimitation, declared the award "null and void".

The trilateral statement was issued last week after the foreign ministers of the three countries met on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, summit hosted by Laos.

They underlined “the importance of refraining from unilateral actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending delimitation”, urging  “all states to refrain from such actions as large-scale land reclamation, and the construction of outposts as well as the use of those outposts for military purposes”.

They expressed “strong support for the rule of law” and called on Beijing and Manila to abide by the July 12 ruling, describing it as “final and legally binding on both parties”.

Wang said Wednesday, “regional countries resist choosing sides on the arbitration case, believing that it is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines, on the other hand, the trilateral statement asserts that the so-called ruling which is highly contentious is binding.”

The South China Sea is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, believed to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits, but Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also consider some of the region’s waters, islands and reefs to be their territory.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2016, 15:05