07/07/2016, 09.52
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Beijing warns Washignton: The South China Sea is ours

In a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Wang Yi calls on US to take “prudent behaviour” in the disputed waters. On July 12, the Hague Tribunal will issue the sentence that will condemn China. Beijing calls the trial “a farce”. The US prepare patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China’s foreign minister spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry by telephone on Wednesday ahead of The Hague international court ruling on China’s South China Sea claims and warned Washington against moves that infringe on its sovereignty.

In the call initiated by Kerry, Wang “urged the United States to honour its commitment to not to take sides on issues related to sovereign disputes, to be prudent with its actions and words, and not to take any actions that infringe upon the sovereignty and security interests of China”, Xinhua agency said.

The Chinese government claims most of the South China Sea, including sovereignty over the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, in opposition to Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. Some US$ 5 trillion in trade goes through the sea. Beijing has started to build artificial islands with military installations.

To counter Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea, the Philippines have turned to the United Nations tribunal.

China has refused to take part in the proceedings saying the tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter. It argues that territorial disputes in the region should be settled by direct negotiations between the two nations involved.

Wang Yi repeated China’s rejection of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Arbitration in the case, calling it a “farce”. Two days ago Dai Bingguo, former State Councillor and top diplomat in Washington, claimed that the international court ruling on China’s claims in the South China is only a “piece of trash paper”.

The US State Department confirmed that Kerry had spoken by phone to Wang. “The two discussed issues of mutual interest. We are not going to get into the details on this private diplomatic conversation,” State Department spokeswoman Gabrielle Price said.

US officials say the American response, should China stick to its vow to ignore the ruling, could include stepped up freedom-of-navigation patrols close to Chinese claimed islands in what is one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Others say they fear China may respond to the ruling from The Hague by declaring an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013, and by stepping up its building and fortification of artificial islands.

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