Wang says non-claimants in S. China Sea shouldn’t ‘add trouble’

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(Sept 8): China called on countries not directly involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea not to interfere and “add trouble.”

China understands why countries outside the disputed territories show concern about the issue, but hopes “these countries play a constructive role rather than add trouble,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop during talks in Sydney yesterday, according to a statement posted on the website of China’s Foreign Ministry.

China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are fully capable of resolving the disputes and maintaining freedom of navigation in one of the world’s busiest waterways, Wang said, according to the statement.

Tensions have been rising in Southeast Asia as China more aggressively asserts its claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea. China’s oil drilling near Vietnam triggered deadly anti-Chinese riots there in May, and the Philippines is seeking international arbitration in its dispute with China. The U.S. is treaty-bound to defend the Philippines in a conflict with China and has repeatedly called on countries to resolve their disputes peacefully and respect international law.

“Wang didn’t name the names, but it’s clear to whom the message was sent,” Shen Shishun, senior researcher of the Department of Asia-Pacific Security and Co-Operation at China Institute of International Studies. “The U.S. has been very active in the South China Sea disputes and has strengthened its military ties with some claimant states such as the Philippines.”

Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam all stake claims to parts of the South China Sea.