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China rebukes Japan on S China Sea remarks
September 19, 2016, 12:49 pm

China and Russia are about to conclude joint naval exercises in the South China Sea [Xinhua]

China and Russia are about to conclude joint naval exercises in the South China Sea [Xinhua]

China’s Foreign Ministry has sharply criticized remarks made by Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada regarding the South China Sea issue.

During her visit to Washington last weekend, Inada said Japan would work with neighbors to boost their naval capacities along the South China Sea and work with the US on joint missions in that body of water.

“Japan on its part will increase its engagement in the South China Sea through, for example, Maritime Self-Defence Force [Japan’s navy] joint training exercises with the US navy, bilateral and multi-lateral exercises with regional navies, as well as providing capacity building assistance for coast nations,” she said.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Monday said that Japan is bucking the trend in the region – Asian nations with stake in the large body of water had previously agreed to adhere to a “dual-track” approach to deal with the South China Sea issue, spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday.

The dual-track approach entails disputes to be resolved peacefully through negotiation between directly concerned parties, on the one hand.

On the other hand, China and ASEAN members have pledged to work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Consensus on the South China Sea was reached at both the China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting early this month and the China-ASEAN foreign minsters’ meeting in July, according to Lu.

Beijing claims 90 per cent of the South China Sea, a maritime region believed to hold a wealth of untapped oil and gas reserves and through which roughly $4.5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year. While the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have contesting claims on these waters, Japan does not.

However, Japan does have a dispute over the sovereignty of Islands in the East China Sea. Tokyo has said it has been concerned by China’s claim to the maritime region.

During his meeting with Inada over the weekend, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pledged US support to Japan and said that Washington would aid its ally in the event of war with China over the disputed territory in the East China Sea.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte recently told local media that he expects to discuss Manila’s claims to the South China Sea with Beijing before year’s end.

It is “better to continually engage China in a diplomatic dialogue rather than anger officials there,” he told reporters late August.

In July, the international court of arbitration in the Hague ruled that China’s “historic” claims to most of the South China Sea were invalid. The ruling came after the former Philippines government unilaterally brought its contest to Beijing’s South China Sea claims to the court.

During his speech at the 11th East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos two weeks ago, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the best formula for peaceful resolution of South China Sea issues was through last year’s Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) agreed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“China and ASEAN nations have the full wisdom and ability to manage the South China Sea issue,” Li said.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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