Beijing accuses Tokyo of meddling in South China Sea issue

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Beijing, Aug 9 (IANS) China on Wednesday expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to Japan’s defence white paper for 2017 which accused Beijing of trying to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea based on “its own assertions”.

In the white paper of more than 560 pages, Japan devoted 34 pages to unjustified criticism of China’s normal defence construction and military activities, Xinhua news agency reported.

Japan claimed in its defence white paper that “China has tried to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea based on its own assertions, and this has become a common concern of the region and the world at large.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang accused Japan of meddling in the South China Sea issue, saying China has lodged solemn representations to the Japanese side.

Geng said that the will of the Chinese government to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is firm.

He said conducting patrol and law-enforcement activities in waters off the Diaoyu Islands is China’s inherent right and Japan is in no position to point fingers at those activities.

The Chinese side, carrying out normal sea and air activities in accordance with international law, relevant domestic laws and regulations as well as national defence needs, is beyond reproach, he said.

The construction of necessary and appropriate facilities by the Chinese side in some reefs and islands of the Nansha Islands is a legitimate right granted to sovereign states by international law, which has nothing to do with militarisation and does not pose a threat to regional security, said Geng.

With the concerted efforts of countries in the region, the situation in the South China Sea has stabilised, he said.

China and the Asean countries are focusing on strengthening cooperation to promote comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and jointly develop regional rules.

On Sunday, China and Asean Foreign Ministers adopted a framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, said Geng, noting that all parties affirmed the positive situation in the South China Sea and highly appreciated the early cooperation results, such as the China-Asean senior diplomats hotline.

Geng said he hoped that Japan would respect the efforts made by China and the Asean countries in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea, stop intervention and play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability.

He urged the Japanese side to learn lessons from history, stick to the path of peaceful development and act prudently in military security.

“We hope that the Japanese side could do more to help enhance mutual trust with China and other neighbouring countries and to safeguard regional peace and stability,” Geng said.

–IANS

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