China objects to Indo-US statement on S China Sea

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Oct 08, 2014 18:35 IST

China on Wednesday expressed its displeasure over reference in the India-US joint statement to tension in the South China Sea, saying no third party had the right to interfere in the region.

China is locked in disputes with several of its maritime neighbours in the South China Sea over the ownership of islands and it is highly sensitive to any mention about the freedom of navigation in those waters. The India-US joint statement, which was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama in Washington on September 30, "expressed concern about rising tensions over maritime territorial disputes" and the need to ensure "freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea".

China's foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, referred to the statement during a regular briefing on Wednesday, making the first statement on the issue.

"Our position is that the dispute in the South China Sea should be resolved by countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation, and any third party should not be involved in the dispute."

China's ongoing disputes in the South China Sea rise over claims and counterclaims over several uninhabited islands, which are said to be sitting on huge reserves of oil and natural gas.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea, but its assertions clash with countries like Vietnam and Philippines among others.

China also has a similar dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

India has mentioned the "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea on several occasions before without appearing to be directly involved in the maritime tussle in what China considers its backyard.

China would have closely monitored President Pranab Mukherjee Vietnam visit in September -- days before Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India -- when New Delhi and Hanoi strengthened defence and energy ties.

India and Vietnam also agreed to consolidate energy bilateral cooperation following a 2013 agreement under which PetroVietnam offered ONGC oil and gas blocks for exploration in the South China Sea.

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