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China slams G7 ‘irresponsible’ remarks on maritime disputes

China has strongly slammed a statement by the G7 group of advanced economies on Beijing’s maritime dispute with its neighbors.

At the end of their meeting in Hiroshima Monday, foreign ministers of the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan issued a statement about tensions over the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas.

The G7 statement indirectly accused China of “intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions” in the strategic seas.

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday responded angrily to the statement, denouncing it as “irresponsible,” and urging G7 member states “to abide by their promise of not taking sides on territorial disputes.”

G7 members should “respect the efforts by regional countries, stop all irresponsible words and actions, and make constructive contribution to regional peace and stability,” the ministry’s spokesman Lu Kang said.

“China’s stance on the East and South China Seas are consistent and clear,” said the official, reaffirming Beijing’s determination to deal with such disputes though negotiations and within the framework of international law.

This aerial image taken from a C-130 transport plane shows a general view of Taiping Island in the Nansha chain in the South China Sea on March 23, 2016. ©AFP

The statement said Beijing has “every right” to build on the Nansha Islands, known as Spratly to its rivals, adding that there is no problem with the freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea that is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves.

The dispute has at times drawn in extra-territorial countries — particularly the United States — which more often have sided with China’s rivals.

Last month, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slammed the US military build-up in the South China Sea, saying the US was militarizing the disputed waters by conducting patrols.

Washington has been accusing Beijing of attempting to take advantage of the situation and gradually asserting control over the region.

China rejects the allegations and says the US is interfering in regional affairs, deliberately stirring tensions in the South China Sea.


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