China said on Saturday that countries not directly involved in its dispute over the South China Sea should “respect” efforts of Beijing and its neighbors to peacefully settle the issue, obviously referring to the United States.
China also reiterated its claims over the disputed waters, which includes the South China Sea that also known as the West Philippine Sea.
“China hopes countries outside the region will duly respect the efforts of China and other regional countries to properly handle maritime disputes and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a statement on its Facebook page.
China also maintained that it “unswervingly upholds its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests” in the contested waters, which it said dates back “in the course of a long history, and are in line with international law and practice.”
China made the statement in reaction to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejection of China’s claims in the South China Sea beyond what is allowed under international law.
On the other hand, Blinken made his remarks in a phone call to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who has filed a diplomatic protest against a new Chinese law that allows its Chinese Coast Guard to fire at foreign vessels in areas claimed by Beijing.
The statements of China also comes at a time when Taiwan has reported repeated incursions by its rival’s fighter jets into its airspace, creating a potential powder keg.