BEIJING: China on Tuesday warned the United States not to interfere in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea at an upcoming meeting in New York between President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian leaders.
“We are resolutely opposed to countries not involved interfering... and we oppose the internationalisation of the South China dispute because it will only make the issue more complicated,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
“Right now, the South China Sea is generally stable and China is deepening and expanding its relations with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries” on the issue, she said.
Obama will meet Asean leaders in New York on Friday on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly as the United States seeks to bolster its role in a region faced with a rising China.
“We will pay attention to any statement that the US and Asean may issue,” Jiang said. But she added: “China enjoys indisputable sovereign rights on the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters.”
China insists it has complete sovereignty over the potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. However the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have competing claims.
In security talks in Hanoi in July, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said resolving the South China Sea dispute was “pivotal” to regional stability and called for multilateral talks — a position long opposed by Beijing.
Jiang however said Beijing was willing to work for a peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute through dialogue with the parties concerned.
China has called the disputed maritime region a “core” issue of national sovereignty on par with Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang.
US commanders have made it clear they are watching China’s military buildup, particularly its naval reach into the South China Sea.
Moreover, China on Tuesday said a row over Japan’s detention of a Chinese trawler captain had badly damaged ties and made it “inappropriate” for the premiers of Asia’s biggest economies to meet this week at the UN.
Beijing had already suspended high-level exchanges and promised tough counter-measures after a Japanese court extended the detention of the skipper whose boat collided with two Japanese coastguard ships this month near disputed islands.