US actions in South China Sea raise questions over motives: China

A US Navy guided-missile destroyer patrolling in the Philippine Sea in 2013.
A US Navy guided-missile destroyer patrolling in the Philippine Sea in 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - The US deployment of military vessels and planes near the contested Spratly islands in the South China Sea has brought out a sense of disgust among the Chinese people and raised serious questions over Washington's motives, said a top legislature official in Beijing.

Asked about why China was "militarising" the South China Sea through its construction of runway and deployment of surface-to-air missiles, Ms Fu Ying, spokesman of the National People's Congress (NPC), told reporters that Beijing's actions are aimed at augmenting self-defence capability and ability to provide public good and maintain regional peace and stability.

Instead, she said the United States is more guilty of militarisation as there are more American vessels and planes than that from other countries operating in the region.

"We feel that the US actions in sending vessels and planes near to the Spratly islands and reefs as a show of force is not a good thing. It arouses a feeling of disgust among the Chinese people.

"The US has said it doesn't take a stance on South China Sea territorial disputes but its actions seems to be aimed at agitating tensions, which raise serious questions over its motives," Ms Fu, a former vice-foreign minister, said at a briefing on Friday (March 4), a day before the NPC opens its annual session.

She also disputed a comment that boosting one's self-defence ability amounts to militarisation.

"If the US is truly concerned about regional peace and stability, it should support direct negotiations between China and neighbouring countries and not take contradictory actions as if it has some ulterior motives," she added.

The US has deployed military vessels and planes in the South China Sea to assert its belief in freedom of navigation and overflight, which has become a concern amid China's land reclamation and construction of military facilities around the Spratly island chain.

The South China Sea faces overlapping claims by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg