China said on Saturday that countries which are not directly involved in its dispute over the South China Sea should “respect” efforts of Beijing and its neighbors to peacefully settle the issue.
However, China also reiterated its claims over the disputed waters and beyond. The South China Sea is also known as the West Philippine Sea.
China made the statement after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea beyond what is allowed under international law.
“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 has come under criticism over the recent passage of its law allowing its coast guard to fire at any foreign vessel intruding what it claims to be its territorial waters. At present, China is at odds with Taiwan and some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including the Philippines, over the South China Sea. SOVEREIGNPH