The US says that it will monitor China’s moves in the Asia-Pacific region after Beijing refused Washington’s proposal for a freeze on “provocative” actions in the region.
The United States will be “monitoring the actual situation around the rocks, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea,” a US State Department official was quoted as saying by Reuters on Monday.
The warning was issued after the US called on China to take “de-escalatory steps” in the South China Sea. But, China rebuffed the proposal.
“Some countries outside the region are restless, and stir up tensions… might their intention be to create chaos in the region? China and ASEAN are totally able to safeguard well the peace and stability of South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday.
“We do not agree with such a practice and we call for vigilance in the motives behind them,” Wang said.
Last year, China urged the US not to interfere in its internal affairs after the US raised concerns about Chinese plans to put the East China Sea under the control of its air forces.
The US, however, ignored China’s request and flew B-52 bombers over the region in defiance of China’s territory claims.
In an article published on Monday, China’s Xinhua news agency said Washington is stoking the flames and further emboldening countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hardline stance against China.
“It is a painful reality that Uncle Sam has left too many places in chaos after it stepped in, as what people are witnessing now in Iraq, Syria and Libya,” according to the article. “The South China Sea should not be the next one.”
In response, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States was not responsible for fomenting instability in the South China Sea.
“It’s the aggressive acts the Chinese have taken that are doing do,” she said.
“Everything that we are doing is designed to lower tensions, to get people (to) resolve their difference diplomatically and not through coercive and destabilizing measures like we’ve seen the Chinese take increasingly over the past several months.”