China’s South China Sea military deployments are no different from deployments by the United States on Hawaii, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday, striking a combative tone before a visit
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Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the minister was also expected to discuss North Korea, and she repeated China’s opposition to the possible US deployment of an advanced US missile defence system following Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch.
Last week the US accused China of raising tensions in the South China Sea by its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island, a move China has neither confirmed nor denied.
Asked whether the South China Sea, and the missiles, would come up when Wang was in the US to meet Secretary of State John Kerry, Hua said Washington should not use the issue of military facilities on the islands as a “pretext to make a fuss”.
“The US is not involved in the South China Sea dispute, and this is not and should not become a problem between China and the United States,” Hua told a daily news briefing.
China hoped the US abided by its promises not to take sides in the dispute and stop “hyping up” the issue and tensions, especially over China’s “limited” military positions there, she said.
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“China’s deploying necessary, limited defensive facilities on its own territory is not substantively different from the United States defending Hawaii,” Hua added.
US ships and aircraft carrying out frequent, close-in patrols and surveillance in recent years was what had increased regional tensions, she said.
“It’s this that is the biggest cause of the militarisation of the South China Sea. We hope that the United States does not confuse right and wrong on this issue or practise double standards.”
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion in global trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Beijing has rattled nerves with construction and reclamation activities on the islands it occupies, though it says these moves are mostly for civilian purposes.
Wang is scheduled to be in the US from Tuesday until Thursday.
Hua said Wang would have “in-depth discussions” on North Korea’s nuclear development programme with his US counterpart.
Wang’s meeting with Kerry concerning North Korea is the second in one month, while China and the US are seeking to complete their drawn-out negotiations as early as this week on a UN Security Council resolution in response to the nuclear test on January 6 and the launch of what Pyongyang calls a satellite on February 7.
Meanwhile, China and Japan are arranging a meeting between foreign ministry officials later this month to discuss responses to North Korea’s long-range rocket launch and nuclear test, a Japanese government source said on Monday.
Kong Xuanyou, China’s assistant foreign minister, is expected to meet Japanese deputy foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama in Tokyo in what would be the first visit by a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official to Japan since North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, the source said.