"From my point of view, by playing up the so-called China's militarization in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying 'stop thief,'" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
FMPRC/Released
China hits US: Stop hyping South China Sea dispute
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - June 1, 2018 - 10:59am

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing called out Washington for "playing up" its militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the United States to stop "hyping" the maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

"We urge certain people in the US to give up all the meaningless hyping up surrounding the situation and do more in a responsible way to enhance trust and cooperation between regional countries and promote regional peace and stability," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing Thursday.

This statement comes days after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that Washington will continue to confront Beijing's increasing militarization in the contested waters.

Justifying US freedom of navigation operations, Mattis noted that there was only one country that "seems to take active steps to rebuff them or state their resentment of them."

Beijing, however, accused the US Navy of deliberately trespassing into waters and features that China claims as theirs in the South China Sea.

"They prettify it as 'freedom of navigation operation.' Does the US truly want the freedom of navigation entitled under the international law? Or does it just want the freedom to do whatever it likes as a hegemon?" Hua said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson further noted that US military presence in the region exceeds the total military strength of China and other littoral states.

"China is not the first to deploy weapons in the South China Sea region, neither is it the one that deploys the largest number of weapons, still less the one that conducts military activities most frequently there. It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarizing the South China Sea," the spokesperson said.

Defending the deployment of weapons on its bases in the South China Sea, Hua stressed that Beijing was only exercising its "right to self-preservation and self-defense" under international law.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing will "never attack others unless we are attacked."

"Those who are addicted to and going after hegemony always have the illusion that others are coveting their hegemony. China has solemnly stated on many public occasions that its development will pose no threat to any other country. No matter how developed it grows, China will never seek hegemony or expansion," Hua said.

The Pentagon recently withdrew its invitation for China to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercises, the world's multinational maritime exercise. This was an "initial response" to Beijing's recent actions in the South China Sea.

The US stressed that it has "strong evidence" that China deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to its bases in the Spratly Islands.

CHINA FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION OPERATIONS SOUTH CHINA SEA SPRATLY ISLANDS UNITED STATES
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