China’s foreign ministry has slammed as “irresponsible” claims by the US’ top diplomat that China is blocking access to energy beneath the South China Sea.
Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Wednesday that Beijing had started consulting Southeast Asian nations about resolving disputes in the South China Sea, and called on non-claimant nations to keep out of the discussions.
“Nations in the region are capable of resolving and managing the disputes in their own ways,” Lu said. “Nations outside the region should refrain from stirring up trouble and disrupting the harmonious situation.”
Without specifying, Lu said an “extraterritorial country” repeatedly tried to destabilise the region, working against the interests of the countries in the area.
Lu was responding to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s suggestion that China was blocking energy development in the South China Sea through “coercive means”, preventing Southeast Asian countries from accessing more than US$2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.
Addressing top energy firm executives and oil ministers in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, Pompeo criticised “China’s illegal island building in international waterways”, insisting that it was not “simply a security matter”.
“By blocking energy development in the South China Sea to coerce, it means China prevents Asean members from accessing more than 2½ trillion in recoverable energy resources,” he said.
“To contrast, the United States government promotes energy security for those Southeast Asian nations. We want countries in the region to have access to their own energy.”