Beijing sought to downplay comments by a state newspaper of potential conflict in the South China Sea, reiterating that it is committed to peace and dialogue with other countries in the region.
“China will work with ASEAN countries to safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing Tuesday.
The remarks came when he was asked about editorials in Global Times that suggested that Beijing should prepare for military confrontation amid its maritime disputes, Reuters reported.
As an international court prepares to deliver a ruling on competing claims in the South China Sea by China and the Philippines, Global Times said the dispute has been complicated by US intervention.
“Washington has deployed two carrier battle groups around the South China Sea, and it wants to send a signal by flexing its muscles. As the biggest powerhouse in the region, it awaits China’s obedience,” the state-run daily said.
To safeguard its interests, China should speed up development of its military deterrence, the newspaper said.
“China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations,” it said.
Asked about the editorials and whether conflict could break out in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong said Beijing is committed to peace.
“As for the relevant dispute, China does not accept any decision imposed by a third party as a means of resolution, nor any solution plan that is forced upon China,” he said, referring to the case brought against it by the Philippines.
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