The war of words between China and the US over territorial disputes in the South China Sea continued on Tuesday with Beijing accusing Washington of fomenting tension in the region by making unfounded comments.
“There is indeed a country taking provocative actions in the South China Sea, but this country is not China,” Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson told a daily press briefing.
“The US mistaken comments have encouraged dangerous and provocative actions,” Hua said.
Hua’s sharp comments after foreign minister Wang Yi told John Kerry, US secretary of state, over phone that the US should “watch its words and actions and avoid emboldening relevant parties’ provocative actions”
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia as well as Taiwan.
Earlier, the US had called China’s decision to move an oil rig into a disputed area of the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam as “provocative”.
Subsequently, both Beijing and Hanoi had alleged that the other country’s ships had rammed into theirs, heightening tension in the region.
“It is the US coming in and making a series of erroneous remarks about the issue in the waters, encouraging certain countries' threatening and provocative behavior, Hua said, adding a question: “We hope that US can consider carefully, if it really wants the Pacific to be pacific, then what role should the US be playing?”
Around the same time, Philippines and China got embroiled in a latest round of dispute after Manila arrested Chinese fishermen for fishing in disputed waters in the region.
The Chinese state media has urged the government to make the “challengers” to China’s territorial sovereignty to pay an “unaffordable price”.
“The Philippines has singled itself out as a determined challenger of Chinese national interests and the devoted hatchet man of foreign anti-China forces,” the government-run China Daily said in an editorial.
“It needs to be convinced that it has made a choice that, if it persists, means paying an unaffordable price.”
The China Daily accused Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam of worsening situations in the region, encouraged by “malicious third parties”.
“A rat will not be pacified when we hesitate to pelt it for fear of smashing the vase beside it,” it added.