A CHINESE official downplayed an editorial from an influential state newspaper of a potential war in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China’s state-run Global Daily on Tuesday said Beijing should prepare for military confrontation as the July 12 tribunal ruling on an arbitration case poses threat to the country’s sovereignty.
The dispute had already been made more complicated by US intervention, with Washington sending two carrier battle groups around the region and supposedly flexing its muscles, the paper claimed.
Speaking in a regular news briefing in Beijing late Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing is committed to peace in safeguarding its interests in the West Philippine Sea.
“We maintain that relevant disputes be resolved through dialogue and consultation with countries directly concerned, and that peace and stability in the South China Sea be jointly upheld alongside Asean countries,” he was quoted in a translated transcript issued by the ministry.
Asean refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, four of whose members–the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam–have overlapping claims over the resource-rich waters.
Hong urged non-regional countries not to meddle in the dispute.
“Non-regional countries should stick to the policy of not taking sides on relevant disputes in the South China Sea and be discreet in their words and deeds,” he said.
Meanwhile, China kicked off its week-long military drills in waters around Paracel Islands on Tuesday.
Hong described the activity as a “routine exercise” despite its questionable timing.