Reacting sharply to India’s move of including Japan in the Indo-US Malabar naval exercises, China said Monday it is hopeful Tokyo will not provoke confrontation and heighten tensions in the region.
“Our position is very clear. It is hoped that the relevant country will not provoke confrontation and heighten tensions in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing while replying to a question on Japan’s inclusion in the Malabar drills.
During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India last week, it was announced that Japan will be a partner in Malabar Naval Exercises, taking it from a bilateral naval exercise between India and the US to a trilateral level on a permanent basis.
In his briefing, Hong reacted mildly to references to the disputed South China Sea in the talks between Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the agreement between the two countries to further civil nuclear cooperation.
“China respects freedom of navigation enjoyed by the all countries in the SCS according to the international law,” he said.
He, however, defended China’s construction of artificial islands with military facilities.
“Construction undertaken by China in the reefs and islands of the SCS is within China sovereignty. There is no impact on freedom of navigation and over flight,” he said reacting to SCS references in the joint statement issued after Modi-Abe talks.
“We hope that countries outside the region will respect efforts being made by the countries in the region to maintain security and stability of the SCS rather than the other way around,” he said.
On the India-Japan civil nuclear deal, Hong said: “All countries have the right to make peaceful use of nuclear energy and carry out relevant co-operation.”