China urged “countries outside the region” to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea, in comments apparently aimed at the United States after Washington proposed that claimants should freeze actions that could change the status quo.
In a statement Tuesday, the foreign ministry reiterated that it had irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, where most of the competing claims overlap, and that Beijing continues to demand the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries which were “illegally occupying” China’s islands, Reuters reported.
“What is regretful is that certain countries have in recent years have strengthened their illegal presence through construction and increased arms build up,” the ministry said.
China will resolutely protect its sovereignty and maritime rights and had always strived to resolve the issue based on direct talks with the countries involved “on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law”, it added.
The remarks came after Michael Fuchs, US deputy assistant secretary of state for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs, said “provocative and unilateral” behavior by China had raised questions about its willingness to abide by international law.
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea.
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