US must honor promise of not taking sides over islands, FM says
Updated: 2016-02-25 18:24
By Li Xiaokun in Beijing and Chen Weihua in Washington(chinadaily.com.cn)
Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday urged the US to honor its promise of not taking sides on sovereignty disputes over the Nansha Islands and play a constructive role in regional stability.
Wang made the remarks as he briefed US lawmakers on China's stance on the South China Sea issue on Wednesday during a visit to the Capitol.
"In history, the US used to support China's claim on sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and reefs. Now it should at least keep its promise of not taking sides on the sovereignty dispute over the Nansha Islands and play a constructive role in keeping peace and stability in the region," he was quoted by a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry as saying.
Wang's Feb 23-25 visit to the US came amid US accusations of recent Chinese military deployment on some of its islands in the South China Sea, making headlines in the international media.
The Foreign Ministry has long accused US of taking sides on the South China Sea issue by supporting other claimant countries and only focusing on China's deployment there while ignoring military construction by some countries on illegally occupied islands in the past decades.
The Defense Ministry also said earlier this week that US reconnaissance is the root of "militarization" in the South China Sea.
Wang emphasized to US lawmakers that ensuring peace and stability as well as the safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is in China's interests.
In the meeting attended by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, ranking member Senator Ben Cardin and others, Wang said China is willing to resolve the disputes with related countries through negotiations and the basis of international law.
But he also voiced China's determination to protect its lawful rights and interests.
The US lawmakers said ties with China represent the world's most important diplomatic relationship. They stressed that Washington and Beijing should seek closer cooperation despite divisions.
The visit came a few weeks after US Secretary of State John Kerry's Beijing visit in late January. The two men have met three times in a month.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of US studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the visits are apparently driven by recent rising tensions in the South China Sea and unexpected changes on the Korean Peninsula.