China expresses anger over G7 statement on maritime disputes

Beijing says G7 should focus on economy, not on tensions in East and South China Seas

Crew members of Japanese submarine Oyashio (left) work on the deck while Japanese destroyers  dock at a port of the former US naval base in Subic bay, north of Manila, in the   Philippines.  China has an ongoing row with Tokyo over the ownership of islands in the region. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Crew members of Japanese submarine Oyashio (left) work on the deck while Japanese destroyers dock at a port of the former US naval base in Subic bay, north of Manila, in the Philippines. China has an ongoing row with Tokyo over the ownership of islands in the region. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

 

China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” after foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) bloc of advanced economies issued a statement strongly opposing provocation in the East and South China Seas, where China is locked in numerous territorial disputes with its neighbours.

“We urge the G7 member states to honour their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in response to the statement issued by the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States on Monday after a gathering in the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Mr Lu said the focus of the G7 meetings should have been on economic matters, as the global economy was still experiencing weak recovery, and the bloc should have steered clear of the disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“China’s stance on the East and South China Seas are consistent and clear,” said the spokesman.

Beijing has maritime claims over almost all of the South China Sea, but nearly all of its neighbours in the region, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, also have claims and have expressed concerns about China’s activities there.

China is building air strips and deploying missiles on man-made islands in the area, through which about $5 trillion (€4.38 trillion) in trade ships every year, raising tensions in the region and prompting accusations that Beijing is trying to militarise the area.

Beijing said that it was completely within China’s sovereignty to build structures on the disputed islands and reefs and that there was no problem with freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas.

The US has also been sending navy warships and flying aircraft over disputed territories to register its displeasure with China’s activities.

It also has an ongoing row with Tokyo over the disputed ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, an uninhabited archipelago in the East China Sea, formally owned by Japan but claimed by China.

China reserved particular vitriol for Japan.

“Once again Japan hijacked the multilateral Group of Seven platform to serve its own purposes and to meddle in South China Sea affairs in an unwanted attempt to ‘contain’ China, which is not only unjustified and unhelpful for resolving disputes, but also harmful to regional stability,” Xinhua said in a story about the meeting.

Beijing also repeated that China would neither accept nor participate in any arbitration “illegally forced upon it”, a reference to an international court case lodged by the Philippines against China.

“We urge the G7 member states to fully respect the efforts made by countries in the region, stop making irresponsible remarks and all irresponsible actions, and truly play a constructive role for regional peace and stability,” said the spokesman.