Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - "Shut up!"
This was China's retort to the United States after the US Department of State issued a statement last Friday expressing concern over increased tensions in the South China (West Philippine) Sea and criticising Beijing for establishing a new city and military garrison on an island in the contested waters.
China's state-controlled media lashed out at the United States on Monday, accusing Washington of "trouble making" over criticism of Beijing's claims to a wide swath of the disputed sea.
The Chinese foreign ministry reacted Saturday by summoning a senior US embassy diplomat, who was told that Washington must "respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The China Daily newspaper kept up the heat yesterday, stating in an editorial that the US statement "has deservedly evoked curses on the street" and describing it as "outright trouble-making."
It said the US criticism of Sansha, the new city China established last month in the Paracel Islands to back its claims, "displays stunning disregard for the principle of noninterference in another country's internal affairs."
A commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, used more colourful language, bluntly telling the United States to "shut up" on the issue.
"The statement by the US side confuses right and wrong, strongly misleads public opinion, sends the wrong signal and and should be sternly refuted," it said. "We can completely shout to the US: Shut up."
The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, was elated by the US state department's statement expressing concern over China's establishment of a military garrison in the West Philippine Sea.
"We welcome the August 3 statement of the US state department because it supports the Philippines' rules-based approach to resolving disputes in the West Philippine Sea," DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said in a text message.
On Chinese media's "shut up'' statement, Hernandez said: "The threats to peace and stability along with the threats to freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce will negatively impact not only on claimants but many other nations."
China, citing centuries of contact, says it owns much of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands and other isles claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
The dispute has become more pronounced in recent months.
Friday's statement, issued by state department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell, said the US was "concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea" and was "monitoring the situation closely."
The new garrison and city run "counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region," the statement said.
The Philippine government continues to press for a multilateral solution to territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. In contrast, China wants to resolve the dispute with fellow claimants one-on-one.
Reports from Agence France-Presse and Christine O. Avendano
COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK