China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson alluded to the United States and its allies when she blamed certain nations for threatening stability in the South China Sea, where Beijing claims territory.
“I want to point out that some countries, in a region far from their own lands, have deployed offensive weaponry on a large scale and flexed their military muscles again and again in the South China Sea,” said Hua Chunying, according to Reuters. “This is the biggest factor in the militarization of the South China Sea. We hope the relevant countries cease hyping up the South China Sea issue and scrupulously abide by their promises not to take a position on the territorial disputes.”
Her remarks come a week after U.S. officials announced they are considering sending warships through the 12-nautical-mile zone China claims around the Spratlys Islands.
China recently expanded its artificial island building around the region, which is also a major shipping zone. Washington and China’s neighbors fear Beijing is building military installations on these islands to further support its territorial claims.
However, the Spratlys and Paracels Island chains are claimed in part or in whole by several countries. Although these islands are largely uninhabited, many believe reserves of natural resources surround them.
The U.S. argues China is violating freedom of navigation by laying claim to most of the South China Sea.
“Make no mistake, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do around the world, and the South China Sea will not be an exception,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during a news conference with Australian foreign and defense ministers.
Those words sparked criticism Chunying.
“We will never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and over flight,” Chunying said.