NEW Zealand is the latest country to be slammed by China for expressing concern over matters related to the South China Sea dispute.
New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee gave an address at the high-profile Xiangshan security forum in Beijing yesterday, where he expressed where his country stood on the region.
“We oppose actions that undermine peace and erode trust and would like to see all parties actively take steps to reduce those tensions,” Brownlee said.
“As a small maritime trading nation, international law and, in particular, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is important for New Zealand. We support the arbitral process and believe that countries have the right to seek that international resolution.
“A particular cause of... heightened tension has been the reclamation and construction activity and deployment of military assets in disputed areas.”
Immediately afterwards, chairwoman of China’s foreign affairs committee for parliament Fu Ying addressed the audience and warned New Zealand against interference, threatening it would only lead to rising tensions.
“We hope that countries who are not involved in the disputes respect the countries who are having the disputes to ... work among themselves,” she said.
“Outside involvement, I think the developments have shown, interferences, can only complicate the differences and sometimes even add to the tension.
New Zealand wasn’t the only country to cop criticism.
At the same forum, China’s Defence Ministry warned Japan is “playing with fire” with its plans to step up activity in the area.
“Some countries seek absolute military superiority, ceaselessly strengthen their military alliances, and seek their own absolute security at the costs of other countries’ security,” Defence Minister Chang Wanguan told the audience.
Meanwhile, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing China would not take outside intervention lightly.
“We must solemnly tell Japan this is a miscalculation. If Japan wants to have joint patrols or drills in waters under Chinese jurisdiction this really is playing with fire,” Yang said.
“China’s military will not sit idly by.”
Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke told a military conference in Beijing yesterday that China needs to work to defuse the dispute.
He suggested the country convenes a summit of all interested parties who could then “explore options for developing a new multilateral maritime regime for the South China Sea”, The Australian reports.
“The stakes have now become much bigger than the issues of sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction from which the disputes arise,” he warned.
“It has become the focus for a much wider contest over the future of the Asian regional order, and especially the leadership roles of America and China in shaping and underpinning that order.
“It has in a sense become a dispute over the whole strategic and political future of the world’s most dynamic region. That carries real dangers.”
About $AU6.6 trillion worth of trade passes through the sea each year.
In July this year, an international tribunal in the Hague ruled that China had no historic title over the waters and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights there. The decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court’s authority and has since stepped up its claimant activities in the region.
— with Reuters