Chinese envoy demands US, UK to stop meddling in sea dispute

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese diplomat has asked politicians and media outlets in the United States and the United Kingdom to stop meddling in the South China Sea dispute.

"The issue of the South China Sea is being ramped up by those in the US and the UK who accuse China of causing tension in the region. They proclaim the principle of free navigation and overflight but in reality their prejudice and partiality will only increase tension," Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming said in a signed letter to The Times.

Liu stressed in his letter that China was the first country to discover and name the islands and reefs in the disputed waters.

The Chinese diplomat claimed that more than 40 of the islands in the region are being illegally occupied by other countries.

"China's construction on its own islands and reefs is a matter for us. These actions are not targeted at any other country," Liu said.

Liu also denied that there is a threat to the freedom of navigation and overflight in the region as more than 100,000 vessels pass through the sea unimpeded every year.

The diplomat defended China's position of rejecting the arbitration filed by the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, stressing that it has made a declaration in 2006 to exclude compulsory arbitration on sovereign disputes and maritime delimitation.

"Some countries outside the South China Sea claim to be taking no side in sovereignty disputes, but that are actually doing all they can to get involved. The military vessels and planes they sent to the region and the accusations they throw at China only encourage certain countries in the region to behave even more recklessly, increasing the tension," the Chinese diplomat said.

Liu reiterated that nations should desist from "meddling and muddling" in the sea dispute as it would pose a threat to regional stability and world peace.

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