US creating chaos in Asia, says Chinese mission in Philippines

US envoy Robert O'Brien has backed South-east Asian countries in disputes with China.
US envoy Robert O'Brien has backed South-east Asian countries in disputes with China.

MANILA • China's embassy in the Philippines has denounced the United States for "creating chaos" in Asia, after a visiting White House envoy backed countries in disputes with China and accused Beijing of using military pressure to further its interests.

During a trip to Manila on Monday, national security adviser Robert O'Brien underscored the American commitment to Taiwan and told the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that "we've got your back".

"It shows that his visit to this region is not to promote regional peace and stability, but to create chaos in the region in order to seek selfish interests of the US," the Chinese embassy said in a statement issued late on Monday.

The US should "stop inciting confrontation" in the South China Sea and "stop making irresponsible remarks on the Taiwan and Hong Kong issue, which are purely China's internal affairs", the statement said.

Mr O'Brien has warned Beijing that it would face a "backlash" if it attempted to use military force to coerce Taiwan, which China views as one of its provinces with no right to state-to-state ties.

The US and China have been at loggerheads over issues ranging from technology and human rights to Chinese maritime militarisation, with each accusing the other of deliberately provocative behaviour.

China has staked claim to 90 per cent of the South China Sea, including areas claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

An international tribunal in 2016 ruled that China's expansive claim, based on its historical maps, is inconsistent with international law.

Washington has repeatedly sent warships to the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there.

"Facts have proved that the US is the biggest driver of the militarisation," the embassy statement said, calling it "the most dangerous external factor" in the South China Sea.

The US embassy in Manila had no immediate response.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'US creating chaos in Asia, says Chinese mission in Philippines'. Print Edition | Subscribe