White House warns China over illegal construction in the South China Sea region
China has postulated its “indisputable sovereignty” over parts of the South China Sea. Chinese reaction came after Trump administration vowed to prevent China from taking territory in the region.
In a statement issued by the Chinese foreign ministry they said “Beijing would remain firm to defend its rights in the region”.
Earlier on Monday Sean Spicer (White House spokesman) said US would “make sure we protect our interests there” in the resource-rich trade route.
His comments came less than a fortnight after Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, set the stage for a potentially explosive clash with Beijing by likening its artificial island building campaign in the South China Sea to “Russia’s taking of Crimea”.
Tillerson said “They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s”.
Several nations like Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, claim territory in the resource-rich South China Sea, which is also an important shipping route.
Critics believe such moves would spark a furious reaction from Beijing and throw US-China ties into chaos.
Mr Spicer’s comments reiterate those of Donald Trump’s new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Mr. Tillerson said “the US should block access to islands being built by China in the South China Sea region, likening it to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine”.
In a Interview he said “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
he Chinese state media responded by warning that such actions would lead to a ‘Ruinous confrontation’.
What is South China sea conflict ?
Rival countries have wrangled over territory in the South China Sea for centuries, but tension has steadily increased in recent years.
As the South China Sea is a resourse rich area and is also an important shipping route, several nations like Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, claim their territory in the South China Sea.
Beijing has been building artificial islands on reefs and carrying out naval patrols in waters also claimed by these other nations.
In July an international tribunal ruled against Chinese claims, backing a case brought by the Philippines, but in reply to that Beijing said it would not respect the verdict.