China Hits Back at U.S. Over South China Sea Criticism

Image: South China Sea
In this March 23, 2016, file photo, an aerial view is seen from a military plane carrying international journalists of the Taiwan-controlled Taiping island, also known as Itu Aba, in the Spratly archipelago, roughly 1000 miles in the South China Sea of southern Taiwan.Johnson Lai / AP file

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/ Source: Reuters

SINGAPORE — China rebuffed U.S. pressure to curb its activity in the South China Sea on Sunday, restating its sovereignty over most of the disputed territory and saying it "has no fear of trouble."

On the last day of Asia's biggest security summit in Singapore, Admiral Sun Jianguo said China will not be bullied, including over a pending international court ruling over its claims in the vital trade route.

"We do not make trouble, but we have no fear of trouble," Sun told the Shangri-La Dialogue. "China will not bear the consequences, nor will it allow any infringement on its sovereignty and security interest, or stay indifferent to some countries creating chaos in the South China Sea."

China and the United States have traded accusations of militarizing the waterway as Beijing undertakes large-scale land reclamation and construction on disputed features while Washington has increased its patrols and exercises.

On Saturday, top U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned China of the risk of isolating itself internationally.

Sun, however, rejected the prospect of isolation and said "we were not isolated in the past, we are not isolated now and we will not be isolated in the future."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, urged Beijing not to establish an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea, as it did over the East China Sea in 2013.

"We would consider an ADIZ... over portions of the South China Sea as a provocative and destabilizing act which would automatically raise tensions," Kerry said Sunday during a visit to Mongolia.

China claims almost the entire sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which trillions of dollars in trade is shipped every year.