Chinese officials called on foreign countries to neither “create dissension” nor “create tension” in the South China Sea region, according to Friday remarks from a foreign ministry spokeswoman.
“Countries outside this region should respect efforts made by countries in the region to maintain peace and stability,” said Hua Chunying.
The remarks come a day after the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas said Chinese claims in the South China Sea were creating “unnecessary friction” and suggested Japan conduct maritime patrols in the South China Sea has a stabilizing influence.
“I think that [Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces] operations in the South China Sea makes sense in the future,” he said Reuters.
“In the South China Sea, frankly, the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coastguard and the (navy) overmatch their neighbors.”
In particular, China’s land reclamation efforts in the Spratly Islands, near the Philippines, for what appears to be a military landing field have raised concerns with members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) who called this week for a code of conduct in the South China Sea.
For its part, China’s response is in line with previous requests for the U.S. and other countries to stay out of the region, of which China claims vast swaths.
“We have the will and ability to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region,” Hua said.