Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Beijing Chides US, Japan, Australia for Heightening Tension in the South China Sea

South China Sea Dispute

(Photo : (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has criticized the US, Japan, and Australia for "fanning the flames" of tensions in the South China Sea region.

China's Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, on Wednesday chastised Australia, Japan, and the US for making the situation worse in the South China Sea region after the three nations released a joint statement on the recent ruling of the Hague-based arbitral court.

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Wang criticized the three nations for "fanning the flames" of regional tensions. He said the joint statement issued by the three nations had come at a wrong time and was destructive.

"This trilateral statement is fanning the flames," he said.

"Now is the time to test whether you are peacekeepers or troublemakers," Wang added.

Halt constructions

The three countries, in their joint statement, urged Beijing to halt its construction and land reclamation projects in the disputed waters. The joint statement is seen as a major show of support for rival claimants to the contested maritime territory.

The three allies issued the joint statement on Monday following the failure of the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to tackle the issue in its closing statement on Sunday. ASEAN foreign ministers failed to mention the South China Sea dispute in their closing statement due to divisions among ASEAN foreign ministers.

The foreign ministers of Japan, Australia, and the US issued their joint statement on the sidelines of a series of the ASEAN meeting in Laos.

PCA ruling

On July 12, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that there is no legal basis for China's claims of "historic rights" of ownership over a large portion of the South China Sea.

The ruling slammed Beijing's nine-dash line concept, on which China's territorial claims to the islands and reefs in the disputed sea is based.

According to the PCA, Beijing violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the rights of the Philippines to explore its exclusive economic zone by constructing facilities on the Mischief Reef.

Special envoy

Beijing has said it does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and boycotted the entire court proceedings.

China dismissed the PCA's ruling as "illegal" and "null and void," insisting that it would only hold bilateral talks with rival claimants to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

On Monday, China welcomed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement that Manila will send ex-President Fidel Ramos as a special envoy to negotiate with China to peacefully resolve the South China Sea dispute.

Ramos, 88, has accepted the appointment. He said he has been cleared by his doctors although he admitted that he is still undergoing treatment for his heart condition. 

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