SHIMA, Japan – The leaders of the Group of Seven countries expressed concern Friday over China’s increasingly assertive activity in the East and South China seas, renewing their warnings against one-sided attempts to change the situation, and stressed the importance of peaceful resolutions.
In a declaration wrapping up their annual summit, the G-7 leaders called for regional and international co-operation on preserving freedom of navigation in the regional seas and co-operating to use the ocean in a sustainable way.
“We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement disputes,” they said.
China’s increasingly assertive maritime presence in disputed parts of the East China Sea, where Japan and China both claim a group of uninhabited islands, and in vast parts of the South China Sea, is viewed as a looming risk for possible conflict.
The construction of islands on land reclaimed in the South China Sea was not formally on the G-7 agenda during its meetings in this seaside resort on Japan’s Pacific Coast. But officials indicated it was a concern.
U.N. Secretary of General Ban Ki-moon, who was attending talks on the sidelines of the summit, urged that China and ASEAN member nations reach agreement soon on a “Code of Conduct” to avoid further escalation of disputes in the region.
The comment was conveyed in a tweet by a U.N. spokesperson.
China has urged the G-7 to avoid discussing regional territorial issues and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China was dissatisfied and to “hype up the disputes and create tensions” would only further destabilize the region.
“It does not comport with the G-7’s status as a group of developed economies either,” Hua told reporters at a daily news briefing.
Hua said China hopes the G-7 states will “adhere to their commitment to not take sides when it comes to territorial disputes, stop making irresponsible remarks and contribute more to regional peace and stability with an objective and fair attitude.”
“I want to stress that given the complicated climate of the world economy, as a forum dedicated to discussing global economic issues, the G-7 should focus on economic and developmental matters of global concern,” Hua said.
© 2016 The Canadian Press