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Iran Press TV

Don't take sides in South China Sea row: Beijing to Washington

Iran Press TV

Tue Jun 7, 2016 1:15PM

China has called on the United States to avoid taking sides in the South China Sea dispute and instead play a positive role in preserving peace in the disputed region.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat who outranks the foreign minister, made the request at the end of the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing on Tuesday.

"China hopes the US will scrupulously abide by its promise to not take sides in relevant territorial disputes and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea," Yang said.

The Chinese official further reiterated his country's right to protect its territorial sovereignty, emphasizing that maritime issues should be resolved by the parties involved through consultation.

"China respects and protects the right that all countries enjoy under international law to freedom of navigation and overflight," he added.

The official made the remarks a few days after US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter warned China against any provocative behavior in the contested region.

Carter said Chinese construction on a South China Sea islet, which is also claimed by the Philippines, would prompt "actions being taken" by the US and other nations.

He also noted that that Beijing risks building a "Great Wall of self-isolation" with its military activity in the disputed waters.

The comments come as the Philippines, a longtime US ally, is waiting for a ruling from a tribunal in The Hague later this month after it went to court in 2013 seeking clarification on its economic entitlements in the South China Sea. However, China says it will not respect the court's decision.

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital South China Sea which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The contested waters are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

China accuses the US of interfering in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea. Washington accuses Beijing of carrying out "a land reclamation program" in the disputed territory.

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