China today asked India and the US not to disturb peace in the strategic South China Sea and play a “constructive role” in the disputes there, as the issue was likely to be discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Donald Trump.
Modi will meet Trump on June 26. He will hold talks with Trump on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern. Asked about the cooperation between India and the US on Indo-Pacific region which includes the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the situation in the disputed region was “cooling down”.
“With concerted efforts of China and ASEAN countries the situation there is cooling down. We hope other countries especially non-regional countries can respect the efforts by the regional countries to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and can play a constructive role in this regard,” Geng said. China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea.
Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.
Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade. The US had recently sent a navy warship near an artificial island in the South China Sea as part of the first “freedom of navigation” operation under President Trump, a move China said challenged its sovereignty in the region.
China termed the US’ move as “irresponsible” and warned that America’s deliberate provocations would have “extremely dangerous consequences” to regional stability.