Changing position on China’s claims over the South China Sea would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.
China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims, sparking alarm regionally and in Washington.
“One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands,” Wang said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly Islands, which together with the Paracel Islands form the bulk of China’s claims.
“China’s demands of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands have not expanded and neither will they shrink. Otherwise we would not be able to face our forefathers and ancestors,” the normally taciturn Wang said in unusually strong comments.