Chinese officials and the State media have taken exception to S.M. Krishna's comments last week that the disputed South China Sea was “the property of the world,” describing the External Affairs Minister's remarks as “a mistake.”
“Other countries can't denote one country's territory as global property,” said a commentary published by the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper. “Describing the South China Sea as global property is a mistake.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday also issued a response to Mr. Krishna, who had also stressed that the sea's “trade-ways must be free from any national interference.”
Spokesperson Liu Weimin said “anyone who is objective and fair is well aware” that the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea, whose islands are disputed by China and 10 other countries, had been “fully guaranteed according to international law.”
“The robust economic development of East Asia and Southeast Asia over the years,” he added, “has also demonstrated that the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea has not been affected by the dispute over the Nansha [Spratly] Islands at all.”
China, he said, had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands, which are also contested by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries. China's position was that the dispute “should be resolved through negotiation between sovereign states that are directly concerned.”
The Global Times had a sharper response to Mr. Krishna, saying India was “playing a long game” by involving itself in the dispute by cooperating with Vietnam in exploration projects.
“India sees China's strategic relationship with Pakistan and Myanmar as geographical containment on India. Therefore, taking a stronger role in South China Sea disputes and taking advantage of China's territorial conflicts with its neighbouring countries are India's strategic means to counter China,” said the commentary, authored by Ju Hailong, a scholar at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Jinan University.
“Intervening in the South China Sea disputes also contributes to expanding India's “Look East Policy” and enhancing policy coordination” with the U.S., the article said. “India's intervention in the South China Sea has not been done on a whim. For India, the strategic benefits brought by it are much greater than the realistic interests gained from the joint oil exploration with Vietnam.”