Beijing warns G-7: Stay out of S. China Sea dispute

(From left) US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the first day of the G-7 leaders summit.
(From left) US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the first day of the G-7 leaders summit. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China has told the Group of Seven (G-7) nations to stick to their economic agenda and not meddle in South China Sea disputes, as G-7 leaders began a summit in Japan.

Asked if a G-7 summit was the right place to discuss the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday that it was up to the nations to decide.

"But we believe that... they should all adopt impartial and fair positions, and not apply double standards or strike alliances, and especially not take actions to escalate or provoke regional tensions," Mr Wang said at a news briefing in Beijing.

Separately, a commentary published by the official Xinhua news agency also warned against meddling even as European Council president Donald Tusk said yesterday that the G-7 should take a "clear and tough stance" on China's contested maritime claims.

Beijing has angered several South-east Asian neighbours by claiming almost all of the South China Sea and rapidly building reefs into artificial islands able to host military jets.

ADOPT IMPARTIAL STANCE

They should all adopt impartial and fair positions, and not apply double standards or strike alliances, and especially not take actions to escalate or provoke regional tensions.

'' CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER WANG YI, when asked if a G-7 summit was the right place to discuss the South China Sea.

 

The commentary said the G-7, comprising Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, "should mind its own business rather than pointing fingers at others". Commentary writer Chang Yuan accused Japan of "attempting to take advantage of its G-7 summit host status and draw more 'allies and sympathisers' to isolate China". Tokyo is locked in a separate territorial dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea.

The writer also said weighing in on the South China Sea "exceeds the G-7's current influence and capability. What's more, it reflects a lingering Cold War mindset".

The commentary came ahead of a ruling expected within weeks on China's claims that the Philippines brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had said that China must abide by the court's decision as he arrived in Japan on Wednesday.

An angry Beijing summoned top diplomatic representatives from G-7 nations last month over a joint statement on the South China Sea.

"We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China seas, and emphasise the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes," the G-7 statement said at the time.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Beijing warns G-7: Stay out of S. China Sea dispute'. Print Edition | Subscribe