Beijing warns of 'necessary response' against provocation in South China Sea in White Paper

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier and an accompanying fleet conducting a drill in an area of the South China Sea in December 2016.
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier and an accompanying fleet conducting a drill in an area of the South China Sea in December 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China on Wednesday (Jan 11) urged its neighbours to maintain peace and development in the region, while warning against provocative action that infringes on its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, the Xinhua news agency reported.

In its White Paper "China's Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation" released by the State Council Information Office, Beijing said it may also "make the necessary response" to behaviour that undermines peace and stability in the disputed waters.

China is locked in regional disputes with its Asian neighbours and claims most of the South China Sea where about US$5 trillion (S$7.2 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes through every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the Sea. 

The White Paper, however, reiterated that Beijing remains committed to resolving disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultation and upholding peace and stability as well as freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

The White Paper has also urged major countries in the region to reject the Cold War mentality and respect the legitimate interests of others, Xinhua reported.

 

“Small- and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries,” the white paper said.  

In a seeming reference to foreign interference, Beijing said while it supported international and regional rules set by all countries, rules of individual countries should not automatically become “international rules”, according to Xinhua. 

In view of the growing clout of China, the white paper said China will provide more public security services to the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large and increase military exchanges and cooperation.