China’s state-controlled media lashed out at the United States on Monday, accusing Washington of “trouble-making” over criticism of Beijing’s claims to a wide swathe of the disputed South China Sea.
China’s ire was provoked by a U.S. State Department statement Friday expressing concern over increased tensions in the area and criticizing Beijing for establishing a new city and military garrison on an island in the waters.
The Chinese foreign ministry reacted Saturday by summoning a senior U.S. embassy diplomat, who was told Washington must “respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The China Daily newspaper kept up the heat Monday, stating in an editorial that the U.S. statement “has deservedly evoked curses on the street” and describing it as “outright trouble-making.”
It said the U.S. criticism of Sansha, the new city China established last month in the Paracel Islands to back its claims, “displays stunning disregard for the principle of non-interference in another country’s internal affairs.”
A commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist party, used more colourful language, bluntly telling the United States to “shut up” on the issue.
“The statement by the U.S. side confuses right and wrong, strongly misleads public opinion, sends the wrong signal and and should be sternly refuted,” it said. “We can completely shout to the U.S.: Shut up.”
China, citing centuries of contact, says it owns much of the South China Sea, including the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea as well, and the dispute has become more pronounced in recent months.
Friday’s statement, issued by State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, said the U.S. was “concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea” and was “monitoring the situation closely.”
The new garrison and city run “counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region,” the statement said.