In push­back to US, Bei­jing says ‘has no fear of trou­ble’ in S. China Sea


SIN­GA­PORE (Reuters) – China re­buffed US pres­sure to curb its ac­tiv­ity in the South China Sea on Sun­day, re­stat­ing its sovereignty over most of the dis­puted ter­ri­tory and say­ing it “has no fear of trou­ble.”

On the last day of Asia’s big­gest security sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, Adm. Sun Jian­guo said China will not be bul­lied, in­clud­ing over a pend­ing in­ter­na­tional court rul­ing over its claims in the vi­tal trade route.

“We do not make trou­ble, but we have no fear of trou­ble,” Sun told the Shangri-La Di­a­logue. “China will not bear the con­se­quences, nor will it al­low any in­fringe­ment on its sovereignty and security in­ter­est, or stay in­dif­fer­ent to some coun­tries cre­at­ing chaos in the South China Sea.”

China and the United States have traded ac­cu­sa­tions of mil­i­ta­riz­ing the wa­ter­way as Bei­jing un­der­takes large-scale land recla­ma­tion and con­struc­tion on dis­puted fea­tures while Wash­ing­ton has in­creased its pa­trols and ex­er­cises.

On Satur­day, top US of­fi­cials in­clud­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter warned China of the risk of iso­lat­ing it­self in­ter­na­tion­ally and pledged to re­main the main guar­an­tor of Asian security for decades.

De­spite re­peated notes of con­cern from coun­tries such as Ja­pan, In­dia, Viet­nam and South Korea, Sun re­jected the prospect of iso­la­tion, say­ing that many of the Asian coun­tries present at the Shangri-La Di­a­logue were “warmer” and “friend­lier” to China than a year ago.

“We were not iso­lated in the past, we are not iso­lated now and we will not be iso­lated in the fu­ture,” Sun said.

“Ac­tu­ally I am wor­ried that some peo­ple and coun­tries are still look­ing at China with the Cold War men­tal­ity and prej­u­dice. They may build a wall in their minds and end up iso­lat­ing them­selves.”

US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry urged Bei­jing not to es­tab­lish an air de­fense iden­ti­fi­ca­tion zone over the South China Sea, as it did over the East China Sea in 2013.

“We would con­sider an ADIZ... over por­tions of the South China Sea as a provoca­tive and desta­bi­liz­ing act which would au­to­mat­i­cally raise ten­sions and call into se­ri­ous ques­tion China’s com­mit­ment to diplo­mat­i­cally man­age the ter­ri­to­rial disputes of the South China Sea,” Kerry said dur­ing a visit to Mon­go­lia.

On the up­com­ing de­ci­sion by the in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal in The Hague in the case brought by the Philip­pines to con­test China’s claims in the ter­ri­tory, Sun re­it­er­ated Bei­jing does not rec­og­nize the court’s author­ity.

Sun said China wanted to solve the dis­pute with the Philip­pines bi­lat­er­ally and said the door was open for di­a­logue with in­com­ing Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

Duterte said on Thurs­day he would not sur­ren­der the coun­try’s rights over the dis­puted Scar­bor­ough Shoal in the South China Sea, which China seized in 2012.

China claims al­most the en­tire sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philip­pines, Tai­wan and Viet­nam also have claims to parts of the wa­ters, through which tril­lions of dol­lars in trade is shipped ev­ery year.

“China has the pa­tience and wis­dom to set­tle any disputes through di­a­logue. We also be­lieve the re­lated coun­tries have the wis­dom and pa­tience to make peace,” Sun said. “I’ve al­ways be­lieved that shak­ing hands is bet­ter than clench­ing fists.”

Viet­nam’s Deputy De­fense Min­is­ter Nguyen Chi Vinh warned of a “deteriorating trend of security” in the South China Sea.

“If not ad­dressed timely and suc­cess­fully, it is likely to en­tail arms race, strate­gic ri­valry of pow­ers with dis­as­trous and un­pre­dictable con­se­quences,” Vinh said.

(Edgar Su/Reuters)

US SEC­RE­TARY OF De­fense Ash Carter meets with Ja­pan’s Min­is­ter of De­fense Gen Nakatani in Sin­ga­pore on Satur­day.

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