China Warns Trump not to Meddle in South China Sea Dispute
China has warned US President Donald Trump not to meddle in the South China Sea dispute saying Washington is not a party to the territorial conflict in the region.
In an interview with an American news agency on Wednesday, China foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the new Trump administration was in no position to attack Beijing over its territorial disputes in the region.
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"There might be a difference of opinion over the sovereignty of these islands, but it's not for the United States," Lu told NBC News.
Lu reiterated Beijing's stance that it would negotiate only with claimant countries in the region to resolve the conflict. This includes the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Lu said Beijing would not back down on its claims in the South China Sea and that the US would have to "wage war" to bar China from accessing its islands and reefs in the region.
Even before Trump assumed presidency, Chinese state-run news agencies had already warned the Republican billionaire to refrain from getting involved in the territorial disputes in the disputed waterway.
But this week, US spokesperson Sean Spicer said that US forces would continue to defend the rights of other countries to use the international waters in the South China Sea freely.
Spicer likewise said that the US would soon formulate measures to bar Beijing from taking islands in international waters in the disputed waterway.
"We have to protect the US' interests in the region and defend international territories from being taken over by one country," he said.
Analysts said Spicer's statements called for military action which may include a naval blockade that could ignite a war between the two countries.
During one of his campaign rallies, Trump had openly accused Beijing of building a "military complex" in the South China Sea and vowed to confront China on the issue once he becomes president.
The resource-rich sea is believed to hold huge deposits of oil and gas. Around $5 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes through the region annually.