Japan and the Philippines teamed up at a regional security forum this week to attack China over the disputed South China Sea, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, as details emerged of sometimes testy exchanges during the talks in Malaysia.
The ministry released a statement citing Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) as telling the East Asia Summit on Thursday that Beijing was not impeding freedom of navigation in the contested waterway.
US Secretary of State John Kerry told the forum that China was restricting navigation and overflights. Kerry also said China’s construction of facilities for “military purposes” on artificial islands in the South China Sea was raising tensions and risked “militarization” by other claimant states.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims.
The Chinese statement made no mention of Kerry or his criticism at the meetings in Kuala Lumpur, where discussion was dominated by China’s creation of seven islands in the Spratly archipelago (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
However, it said that Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario “attacked” Beijing’s South China Sea policy and received support from his Japanese counterpart.
“China opposes any non-constructive words and acts which widen division, exaggerate antagonism or create tensions,” the statement cited Wang as telling the forum.
One diplomat inside the meeting room said that China was angered when del Rosario outlined in detail a legal case that Manila filed against Beijing at an international court in The Hague.
The case, which opened last month, concerns what Manila sees as its right to exploit natural resources and fish in the South China Sea. China has refused to take part.
Among other things, del Rosario said China had “irreversibly” damaged the regional marine environment through its reclamation and creation of islands in the Spratlys, according to a copy of his speech.
Wang told the meeting that “China cannot accept the results of any arbitration.”
“The Philippines did not inform the Chinese side in advance, nor did it seek China’s consent and has initiated unilateral arbitration forcefully,” Wang said, urging the Philippines to resolve the dispute through negotiation.
Turning to Tokyo, Wang told the forum that Japan had built up a remote island in the Pacific called Okinotori to enforce Japanese territorial claims.
China has refused to recognize Tokyo’s claims to an exclusive economic zone around Okinotori, which lies about halfway between Guam and Taiwan, 1,700km from Tokyo. It is also known as Douglas Reef or Parace Vela.
“Before criticizing others, Japan must first take a good look at its own words and behavior,” Wang said.
Chinese reclamation and building work on its islands in the South China Sea were to improve living conditions and provide facilities like lighthouses and weather stations, he added.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut