China warns against intervention as Clinton visits Asia
BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) participates in an arrival ceremony at Rarotonga International Airport in Rarotonga, in this August 30, 2012 file photo. REUTERS photoChina on Monday warned the United States against taking sides in territorial disputes, as it prepared for a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is currently on a tour of the Asia Pacific region during which she is expected to reaffirm calls for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where Southeast Asian nations have accused Beijing of growing assertiveness.
The United States is reinforcing its military presence in the Pacific, a move that analysts say is aimed at countering China's growing power in the region, and which has sparked concern in Beijing.
"We hope the US side will uphold the wider interests of peace and stability and honour its commitments of not taking sides," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a briefing.
"Countries outside this region should respect the choice of countries directly concerned with this issue and should earnestly honour their commitment of not taking sides in this dispute." In unusually robust statements, the United States has recently accused China of escalating tensions and warned against "divide and conquer" tactics after Beijing set up a remote garrison in the South China Sea.
The Philippines, Vietnam and other nations claim islands in the South China Sea -- the passageway for half of the world's commercial cargo -- and have accused Beijing of a campaign of intimidation.
A commentary by China's official Xinhua news agency went further than the foreign ministry comments, accusing the United States of "trying to alienate China from countries around the South China Sea".
"Obviously, Washington's approach is not conducive to the peaceful settlement of the disputes as well as the peace and stability in the area," said the commentary, published a day before Clinton headed to China for talks with top leaders.