China on Tuesday warned the U.S. against interfering in regional territorial disputes, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived here for talks expected to focus on the South China Sea.
The Foreign Ministry said it hoped “relevant countries” would do more to help, and not harm, regional stability. State media outlets welcomed Ms. Clinton, on what is expected to be her last major visit in her current capacity, with commentaries that hit out at her “pivot” to Asia policy. China has warily viewed the strengthening of U.S. alliances with countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, which have had tensions with Beijing over the South China Sea.
Ahead of Ms. Clinton’s meeting on Tuesday evening with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, spokesperson Hong Lei said: “We have noticed that the U.S. has said many times that it will not take a position on the South China Sea issue. We hope that the U.S. side can honour its commitment and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.”
Before her arrival here, Ms. Clinton had said in Jakarta that it was time for countries to create a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. “I think we can make progress before the East Asia Summit and it’s certainly in everyone’s interest that we do so,” she said.
Without naming China, she added that “no party should take any steps that would increase tensions or do anything that would be viewed as coercive or intimidating to advance their territorial claims”.
Mr. Hong ruled out a timeline for agreeing to a Code of Conduct, and repeated China’s position that all countries needed to follow the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) and refrain from taking “any action that could complicate and escalate the situation”. He added that all parties would continue consultations on the code of conduct on the condition that the DOC would be implemented, and called on “relevant countries” to support regional stability.
State media outlets said Ms. Clinton needed to use her China visit — part of a six-nation tour — to address concerns here about the U.S. “pivot” to Asia. The strengthening of alliances with a number of countries, reinforced by Ms. Clinton’s three visits to the region since May, has been seen by many analysts here as being aimed at containing China.
The Communist Party-run Global Times said in an editorial on Tuesday the pivot to Asia, which was Ms. Clinton’s “biggest contribution” to American diplomacy, had “greatly [raised] the mutual mistrust with China”.
“Clinton’s … diplomacy has fomented frictions between China and some surrounding countries in regard to territorial disputes…We hope Clinton can reflect upon the deep harm she is bringing to the Sino-U.S. relationship in the last few months before she leaves office and try to make up for it,” the newspaper said.
“Washington owes Beijing a thorough, convincing explanation of the true intentions of its Pivot policy, especially on issues related to China’s vital or core interests,” added the official Xinhua news agency in a commentary. “And the U.S. also needs to take concrete steps to prove that it is returning to Asia as a peacemaker, instead of a troublemaker.”