Group of Seven (G7) leaders agreed on Thursday they need to send a strong message on the South and East China Sea in which China is locked in territorial disputes with Japan and some Southeast Asian neighbors.
“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe led discussion on the current situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Other G7 leaders said it is necessary for G7 to issue a clear signal,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters
Don’t meddle: China
Seko’s comments came after Chinese state media warned G-7 not to “meddle” in South China Sea disputes.
Earlier on Thursday, China’s official Xinhua news agency warned the Group of Seven nations not to “meddle” in South China Sea disputes.
The commentary came as European Council President Donald Tusk said on the sidelines of a summit in Ise-Shima that the bloc should take a “clear and tough stance” on China’s contested maritime claims.
Beijing has angered several Southeast Asian neighbours by claiming almost all of the South China Sea and rapidly building reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.
Xinhua published an article saying the G7 — which excludes Beijing — “should mind its own business rather than pointing fingers at others”.
China broke deal: Aquino
In a related development, Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday accused China of breaking a U.S.-brokered deal between the two nations on the Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited rocky outcrop in the South China Sea.
Beijing seized control of Scarborough Shoal, near the main Philippine island of Luzon, in June 2012, following a three-month stand-off after a Philippine Navy vessel tried to arrest Chinese fishermen found illegally hauling giant clams there.
On Thursday, Aquino said the United States moved in quickly to resolve the standoff, brokering a “face-saving” deal by asking both nations to pull out their ships, but only the Philippines withdrew.
“Now, their continued presence is something that we have continuously objected to,” Aquino told reporters in his hometown in Tarlac, north of the Philippine capital.
“There was a deal, which we observed religiously. We hope the other side will do what we have done.”
China’s embassy in Manila did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Aquino’s remarks.