BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Tuesday lambasted the G7 over comments insinuating China is at fault over tensions in the East and South China Seas.
“The remarks of the G7 fall far short of the facts and international justice,” said Hong Lei at a regular press briefing, referring to a declaration released on Monday, after a summit of the G7, which groups the industrialized nations Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States.
“We are concerned by tensions in the East and South China Seas. We underline the importance of peaceful dispute settlement as well as free and unimpeded lawful use of the world’s oceans,” the G7 leaders said in the statement.
“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large scale land reclamation.”
Although they stopped short of mentioning any specific country, it is obvious that the Western countries were pointing fingers at China — the largest stakeholder in the South China Sea issue.
Hong said the international community have fair opinions on the rights and wrongs of the issues over the East and South China Seas, in which a number of countries hold competing claims of sovereignty.
China is committed to maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas, and it will be the first to come out against any behavior threatening navigational freedom in these waters, he said.
The spokesperson also reaffirmed China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islets in the East China Sea, as well as the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters in the South China Sea.
He said China’s land reclamation around islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands falls within its sovereignty and no foreign countries should intervene.
According to Hong, construction on these islands is mainly for civilian purposes, which will enable China to better fulfill its international obligations, such as maritime search and rescue and navigation, and their military function is defensive in nature.
“The Chinese government will never recognize the illegal occupation of its Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islets as well as parts of the Nansha Islands by other countries,” he said.
China has showed restraint over the so-called status quo to maintain the peace and stability in the region, he said, noting that as a sovereign state, China is ready to respond to any behavior infringing its sovereign rights and territorial integrity.
He said China has shown commitment to solving maritime disputes through negotiations and consultation directly with concerned parties basing on respect to historical facts and international law, so as to jointly safeguard the peace and stability in relevant waters.