China warns US to stay out of South China Sea disputes

Beijing, June 23 (ANI): China has warned the United States not to get involved in its dispute with Vietnam over the South China Sea.

It warned Washington not to let Southeast Asian countries drag it into ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying Washington should instead counsel its allies to show restraint, The Washington Post reports.

"I believe the individual countries are playing with fire. I hope the fire doesn't reach the United States," said Cui Tiankai, China's Vice Foreign Minister.

Tiankai repeated China's long-standing position that the dispute over all the islands should be resolved through bilateral negotiations with the contesting parties, and that Washington was an outside player with no role to play, the paper said.

"The United States is not a claimant to the sovereignty and territorial dispute in the South China Sea. It is better for the United States to leave the dispute to be settled among the claimants," Tiankai said.

He noted that the US had offered to play the role of neutral mediator, but said that such gestures will only make things more complicated, the paper reports.

"China and the United States had a shared goal in the stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. So if the United States does want to play a role, it can counsel restraint to those countries that have taken provocative actions and urge them to show restraint," he said.

In what sounded like a warning to Washington of growing anti-U.S. sentiment here, Tiankai added, that the Chinese public is paying attention to whether the United States adopts a just and objective position, the paper said. (ANI)