SINGAPORE - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday (Aug 4) defended China's military build-up in the South China Sea, calling it actions taken in self-defence in response to security pressure from the United States and other non-regional countries.
"Certain non-regional countries, mainly the United States, have been sending massive strategic weaponry into this region, especially to the South China Sea, as a show of military might and putting pressure on regional countries, China included."
"I'm afraid that is the biggest force behind China's push for militarisation in this region," he said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Asean-related meetings hosted by Singapore this week.
Citing aircraft carrier fleets, strategic heavy duty bombers and other advanced weaponries, Mr Wang said: "In the face of such mounting military threat and pressure, regional countries, including China, have naturally resorted to self-preservation and self-defence, and have put in place defensive facilities.
"Yet such defensive acts have been labelled as acts of militarisation. That is confounding right and wrong, and I don't think anyone aware of basic facts on the ground will come to such a conclusion."
Asked if other countries were taking action because of China's own militarisation in the South China Sea, Mr Wang said: "China is fully entitled to these measures because China needs to defend its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. And because there is more pressure on China, it is only natural that China takes more measures to defend itself."
But he emphasised that no matter how the situation evolves, China will continue to work with other countries to fulfil its international obligations, including upholding the freedom of navigation in international waters and upholding regional peace and stability.
"We believe these are the common duties and obligations for countries in this region," he added.
Fresh from the back-to-back Asean Plus Three meeting between Asean, China, Japan and South Korea, and the East Asia Summit, Mr Wang drew a sharp line between "non-regional" countries and regional ones, saying there was a clear contrast in their attitudes.
He accused "non-regional countries" of trying to stir up trouble at the East Asia Summit, a meeting of Asean and eight non-member countries: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
Speeches delivered by foreign ministers from regional countries, he said, were all about cooperation and friendship.
But non-regional countries at the East Asia Summit "pointed fingers and tried to stir up trouble", he said without naming specific countries.
"This is deeply regrettable. We believe the main players in these regional countries are the best judges of what has been happening in this region."
"We hope that these non-regional countries can change their mindset of believing they should be the only judge of the situation in this region. We hope they will show greater understanding and support for the positive efforts made by regional countries, China and Asean included, for peace and stability," he said.
These efforts include the single draft negotiation text for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, announced on Thursday and agreed on by Asean and China in June.
These negotiations can be placed on the fast-track if there are no disturbances from outside, said Mr Wang, a stance he has taken repeatedly in his comments made over the week.
Commenting on Mr Pompeo's policy statements made during his trip through South-east Asia this week, Mr Wang said: "What has impressed me the most from what I've heard is that the US believes no country's sovereignty should be threatened and seeks no dominance in this region."
He added: "But we hope the US truly means what it says and will back up what it says with concrete action."