The Group of Seven (G7) leaders reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining a rules-based order in the East China Sea and South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), irking China.
“We reaffirm our commitment to maintaining a rules-based order in the maritime domain based on the principles
of international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), and to the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes through diplomatic and legal means, including arbitration,” the G7 leaders said in a joint communique following their meeting in Taormina, Italy on Saturday.
The G7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and are strongly opposed to any unilateral actions that could increase tensions. We urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features,” the G7 leaders said.
China was quick to show its annoyance and urged the group “to stop making irresponsible remarks.”
“China is committed to properly resolving disputes with all nations involved through negotiations while maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea and South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement.
China has a maritime dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.
Beijing’s claim on almost the entire South China Sea is challenged by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The United States has criticized China’s reclamation of several reefs and islets in the South China Sea into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes. It sees the reclamation as a potential threat to freedom of navigation and overflight.