World

China calls US criticism over South China Sea ‘slander’

BEIJING Remarks by US officials on China's role in the South China Sea are slanderous, its Foreign Ministry said yesterday, after the US voiced concern over reports of Chinese interference with oil and gas activities in the disputed waters.

Its claims in the South China Sea are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

On Saturday, the US State Department said China's repeated provocative actions aimed at the offshore oil and gas development of other claimant states threatened regional energy security and undermined the free and open Indo-Pacific energy market.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton also said on Twitter that China's coercive behaviour towards its South-east Asian neighbours was counterproductive and threatened regional peace and stability, echoing earlier comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said such comments were baseless, adding the US and other "external forces" were stirring up trouble.

"This is slander against Chinese and South-east Asian countries' efforts to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea and properly manage differences," Mr Geng told a news briefing yesterday.

"We urge the US to stop such irresponsible behaviour and respect the efforts of China and Asean countries to resolve differences through dialogue..." - REUTERS

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