Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks via video link at the 10th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi, Vietnam, on September 9, 2020. (Photo from Chinese social media)
China has censured the United Statesí intervention in territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying Washington is fomenting tensions and is the "most dangerous" factor working against peace in the strategic region.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks through video link with foreign ministers at the 10th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday.
"Peace and stability is Chinaís greatest strategic interest in the South China Sea. It is also the common strategic aspiration of China and ASEAN countries," Wang said.
"China hopes that countries outside the region, including the United States, will fully respect the wishes and expectations of countries in the region, instead of creating tension and seeking profit from it," he added.
Wang said that the US was constantly flaunting military force and strengthening presence in the South China Sea and was becoming the biggest driver of the militarization of the area and the "most dangerous" factor in damaging the regional peace.
The top Chinese diplomat said the United States had interfered with the efforts of China and the ASEAN to resolve territorial and maritime disputes through consultation, provoking confrontations between countries in the region.
Last month, the US administration blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and individuals over what it claimed were construction and military actions in the South China Sea. The restrictive measures were Washingtonís first against Beijing over the disputed strategic waterway.
The South China Sea is a gateway to major sea routes, through which about 3.4 trillion dollarsí worth of trade passes each year. China claims sovereignty over much of the strategic waterway and has since 2014 built artificial islands on reefs and installed military bases on them.
Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims with China to parts of the sea.
The United States, which sides with Beijingís rivals in the maritime dispute, routinely sends warships and warplanes to the South China Sea to assert what it calls its right to freedom of navigation, ratcheting up tensions among the regional countries.
China has constantly warned the US against its military activities in the sea, saying that potential close military encounters between the air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could trigger accidents.
Diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing have dropped to the lowest level in decades since US President Donald Trump came to power.