China says US patrol in South China Sea harmed trust

China says US patrol in South China Sea harmed trust

BEIJING – Reuters
China says US patrol in South China Sea harmed trust

AFP photo

The patrol by a U.S. warship close to islands China controls in the South China Sea harmed mutual trust between China and the United States and caused regional tensions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his U.S. counterpart in a call. 

Wang’s comments to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reported by Chinese state television on Nov. 6, come a week after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed close to one of Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea. 

Beijing has repeatedly expressed its anger with Washington over the patrol. 

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than 5 trillion U.S. Dollars of world trade transits every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan all have rival claims. 

China hopes the good foundation for ties with the United States as laid down by President Xi Jinping’s visit there in September does not “receive unnecessary interference,” Wang said. 

“The acts by the U.S. naval vessel in the South China Sea harmed mutual trust and provoked regional tensions. China is extremely concerned by this,” the report paraphrased Wang as saying. 

“The U.S. side should return as soon as possible to the correct path of appropriately managing disputes via dialogue and consultation,” he added. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein, flew to a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, transiting the disputed South China Sea on Nov. 5 and blamed China for rising tension in the region.

Meanwhile, Vietnam agreed on Nov. 6 to invite a Japanese warship to visit its strategic Cam Ranh Bay base on the South China Sea and for the two countries to hold their first ever joint naval exercise, Kyodo News reported. 

The agreement was reached during a meeting in Hanoi between Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh, the news agency said. 

The visit to the port, which is close to the disputed waters of the Spratly Islands where China is building bases on reclaimed islands, may further irritate China after a recent  U.S. naval patrol close to the man-made outcrops prompted Chinese protests.