China has flagged certain unnamed countries for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, but said that the country had defeated such “conspiracies” with its success at turning around relations with the Philippines under its new president Rodrigo Duterte.
China was infuriated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague agreeing with Philippines in their challenge against China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. The new Philippine’s President Duterte has however cooled tensions since he took office in June. During the visit to China soon after his inauguration, President Duterte agreed to resume direct talks on disputes in the South China Sea.
Speaking at an academic forum, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to Duterte’s visit as an important event in improving ties.
“This marks the return of the South China Sea issue to the correct track of resolution via dialogue and consultation, and means the conspiracies of relevant countries to use the South China Sea issue to disorder the region have been thoroughly broken,” he said.
Wang did not name any countries in his speech but in August of this year, China asked Singapore to “respect” Beijing’s position regarding the issue of a recent international tribunal ruling on the disputed South China Sea. It further urged Singapore to respect the general agreement that it has reached with ASEAN.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a statement: “China hopes that Singapore…can maintain an objective and fair position as the coordinator of China and ASEAN dialogue relations, so as to advance Sino-Singapore relations and healthy and stable China-ASEAN ties.”
She was responding to a statement made by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a reception hosted by the United States Chamber of Commerce and US-ASEAN Business Council in Washington where he said that he “did not think China has changed its policy on its claims in the South China Sea after the ruling”.
Wang’s comments were carried on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.