A day after Donald Trump decried threats to sovereignty in Ukraine and the South China Sea, Beijing today hit back at the US President saying ‘Washington was a greater threat to sovereignty’.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the US has conducted three ‘freedom of navigation’ operations near islands held by China to challenge Beijing's maritime claims since Trump took office in January.
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"For some time now, some countries have used the pretext of freedom of navigation to bring their planes and fleets near the South China Sea. Actually, I think this is behaviour that has threatened the sovereignty of South China Sea countries,” the spokesman said.
Lu said the situation in the sea has been cooling down, thanks to efforts by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Chinese official added that ‘this situation can be respected by relevant countries’.
In his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump did not explicitly mention China, but the comment was clearly aimed at Beijing. "We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow."
In response to Trump's warning that he will ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if it threatens the US or its allies, Lu reiterated Beijing's call for efforts to bring the nuclear issue ‘back to the right track of peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation’.
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula remains complex and delicate, we hope all relevant parties can stay restrained and take more actions that are conducive to easing the tension and create necessary atmosphere and conditions for an early return to the track of settling the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue through negotiation,” Lu said.