by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News
“The US is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue, and China urges the US side to respect fact and speak and act with caution, so as not to impair peace and stability in the South China Sea region,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying’s response to President Trump administration’s position in the territorial disputes: “Stay out of the South China Sea issue.”
In his first official press briefing Monday, US Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the US will defend its interest in the South China Sea.
“So it’s a question of…if those islands are in fact in international waters, and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” Spicer commented.
“China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. China firmly upholds its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” said Chunying in a statement. “The US is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue.”
Chunying said on Tuesday that China has indisputable sovereignty over the disputed territories, and will uphold its territorial rights and interests in the sea.
“China is urging the US to respect, speak, and act cautiously, to keep the peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the statement read.
The South China Sea issue came up in Monday’s press briefing, because back on January 11, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said that China should not be allowed access to the disputed islands in the region.
Beijing then responded saying that the US would need to “wage war” to stop China from the island territories, where it has reportedly built military grade airstrips and facilities.
Trump’s tough stance on China also comes when the Philippines is jumpstarting its relations with Beijing.
A high level delegation of the Philippine government arrived in China on Monday, including Philippine ambassador to China, Jose Santiago “Chito” Santa Romana.
“The basic thrust is this. One is to improve the friendship and cooperation between the two countries — and particularly, to push forward the economic cooperation,” said Santa Romana.
“So we are restarting the relationship with china, and we have to intensify really our coordination in the beginning,” said Philippine finance secretary, Carlos G. Dominguez.
Philippine foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay, said that the Philippines quietly sent a protest note to the Chinese embassy last December, over defense facilities built on man-made islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing has remained silent on this protest note.
The challenge the President Duterte administration is facing now is how to thread a delicate balance of asserting its sovereignty over the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea — while improving ties with China at the same time – and rebooting Philippine-US relations under President Trump.