Soon after foreign ministers from the G7 strongly opposed provocation in the East and South China Seas, where China is involved in territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, Beijing reacted sharply saying G7 nations should “stop making irresponsible remarks” on maritime territorial disputes. “We urge the G7 member states to honour their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The G7 should focus on global economic governance and cooperation against the backdrop of weak economic growth rather than hyping up disputes and provoking problems, it added.
The two-day G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held from 10 April to 11 April 2016 in Hiroshima. Foreign ministers from the G7 had issued a statement opposing any provocation in the South China Sea. “We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasise the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes,” the G7 ministers said in a statement.
The G7 meeting also urged countries to observe international maritime laws in the region where China is engaged in territorial disputes with nations including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. “We express our strong opposition to any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions,” the foreign ministers said in the statement.
On the other hand, China said that disputes in the region were being “exaggerated”. “If the G7 wants to continue playing a major role in the world, it should take an attitude of seeking truth from the facts to handle the issues the international community is most concerned with at the moment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reportedly said in a daily news briefing.
Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines also claim parts of the South China Sea, but China continues to assert its dominance over almost the entire area. China has recently increased its military presence in the disputed region and launched a series of controversial land reclamation projects. The G7 statement also expressed concern over the situation in the East China Sea, where Japan and China are involved in a bitter fight over a few unclaimed islands.
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