World

China can't have access to islands: Tillerson

BEIJING: China offered a muted response yesterday after Mr Donald Trump's secretary of state pick warned that the US would stop it from using its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Mr Rex Tillerson's comments, made during his confirmation hearing in the US Senate, are the latest salvo the Trump team has aimed at Beijing.

He told the panel: "We are going to have to send China a clear signal that, first the island building stops, and second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed."

Beijing has fuelled regional tensions by turning tiny, ecologically fragile reefs and islets in the strategically vital South China Sea into artificial islands hosting military facilities.

The former ExxonMobil chief said China's building in the disputed waters and its declaration of an air defence identification zone over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea were "illegal actions".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang offered a measured response to the comments during a regular press briefing, saying that China has "the full right" to conduct activities in the region.

He said: "The South China Sea situation has cooled down and we hope non-regional countries can respect the consensus that it is in the fundamental interest of the whole world."- AFP

South China SeaChinaunited states