On the same day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Washington opposes China’s “intentional provocations” China said the US was engaging in “unlawful maritime claims.” and endangering peace and stability.
At a routine news briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed that the US is “ignoring the historical backdrop of the South China Sea issue and violating international law.”
“The U.S. government is deliberately provoking disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, in violation of its public pledge not to take a stand in the South China Sea,” Zhao said.
“This is a very irresponsible act that seeks to disrupt relations between China and ASEAN countries and destroy regional peace and stability.”
According to the State Department, Blinken had said the United States is committed to ASEAN centrality and Southeast Asia’s key role in the Indo-Pacific regional architecture, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
Blinken also said the Biden administration “stands with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of [Chinese] coercion.”
According to China’s foreign ministry, the US is in no position to claim that it protects international law, citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Washington signed a similar deal in 1994 and accepts the Convention as general international law, but it did not ratify the treaty due to Republican opposition in the United States Senate.
China’s ASEAN neighbours, who contest Chinese rights in the South China Sea, have reported unlawful behaviour in the waterways, including garbage dumping.
The Philippines’ defense ministry on Tuesday ordered an investigation into allegations of Chinese sewage dumping in disputed areas of the South China Sea, CNN Philippines reported.
U.S.-based tech firm Simularity first disclosed the activity.