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China: Outsider US should respect ASEAN agreement on South China Sea

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang holds a press briefing. FMPRC/Released

MANILA, Philippines — China reminded the United States to stop taking sides on issues of sovereignty in the region following the statement of US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson, US President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, said that the US should send China a clear signal that "first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed."

READ: Trump's bet for state secretary wants aggressive stance in South China Sea

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that, like the US, China has full right to conduct any activity within its own territory.

Lu added that China and other claimant states in the South China Sea have worked on resolving disputes through consultation and negotiation.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries jointly maintain peace and stability in the region, Lu said.

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"It is above reproach... The situation in the South China Sea has cooled down as countries in the region have come round to the agreement. We hope that countries outside the region will respect such an agreement that serves the common interests of the region and beyond," Lu said in a press briefing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, agreed with Tillerson's statement that the US should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership.

China has reclaimed thousands of acres of land and constructed military-grade infrastructure and reportedly installed weaponry over objections by the US and rival claimants including the Philippines.

The Philippines, which will be hosting this year's ASEAN Summit, has announced that it will not be raising the decision of an arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea dispute.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 that China violated its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by building artificial islands within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

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