Tensions rise as Chinese media tell US to ‘shut up’
China’s media ramped up condemnation of the United States yesterday over tensions in the South China Sea, with the Communist Party’s top newspaper telling Washington to “shut up” and charging it with “fanning flames” of division in the region.
The Chinese foreign ministry has already condemned a US statement that said Washington was closely monitoring territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and that China’s establishment of a military garrison for the area risked “further escalating tensions in the region”.
The mosaic of rival territorial claims in the South China Sea has become Asia’s worst potential military flashpoint. Beijing has said its disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines and other south-east Asian claimants should be settled one at a time, and it has criticised US backing for a multilateral approach to solving the overlapping claims.
“We are entirely entitled to shout at the United States, ‘Shut up’. How can meddling by other countries be tolerated in matters that are within the scope of Chinese sovereignty?” said a commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, an offshoot of the ruling Communist Party’s top newspaper.
The main, domestic edition was equally harsh and accused Washington of seeking to open up divisions between China and its Asian neighbours.
“Fanning the flames and provoking division, deliberately creating antagonism with China, is not a new game,” said a commentary in the domestic edition. “But of late Washington has been itching to use this trick.”
The ire from Beijing shows the potential for tensions over the South China Sea to fester into a wider diplomatic quarrel, though outright military confrontation remains unlikely.
Last week, the People’s Daily said China’s “core interests” were at stake in its territorial claims.
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