The US gave a strong warning to China not to escalate territorial tensions in the Asia-Pacific region if it doesn’t want to face American retaliation. In his statement, a US official used sanctions on Russia over Crimea’s accession as an example.
Although it’s difficult to gauge China’s response at this point, more pressure needs to be brought to bear for them to abide by diplomatic principles for settling territorial disputes, came the advice from the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Daniel Russel, speaking to a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Regarding how to make China comply, the top official had a ready solution, saying that the recent sanctions imposed by the US and EU on Russia should have “a chilling effect on anyone in China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model,” Reuters reports.
Russel believes that the added effect of punishing China in this way would be compounded by its economic interdependence with the United States. But these remarks got a prompt reaction from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, who accused Russel of confusing two different issues.
Speaking to a news briefing on Friday, Hong said that “No matter whether it’s the Ukraine or the South China Sea issue, China has many times expressed its position. Why must this US official mention the two issues in the same breath, and obstinately say these things about China?”