BEIJING (REUTERS) – The United States and China clashed over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea yesterday, as China’s foreign minister asserted its sovereignty to reclaim reefs saying its determination to protect its interests is “as hard as a rock”.
After a private meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi showed no sign of backing down despite Kerry urging China to take action to reduce tension in the South China Sea.
“With regard to construction on the Nansha islands and reefs, this is fully within the scope of China’s sovereignty,” Wang told reporters, using the Chinese name for the Spratly islands.
“I would like to reaffirm that China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity is as hard as a rock,” he said. “It is the people’s demand of the government and our legitimate right.”
Wang made the comments at a joint news conference with Kerry, who is on a two-day visit to China likely to be dominated by deepening concern about Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea.