'US sending wrong signals over South China Sea'
Beijing: A recent statement by the US State Department on the South China Sea sent wrong signals, and did not help with the peace and stability in the region and Asia-Pacific at large, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said in a comment on Sunday.
The State Department on Friday accused China of taking unconstructive moves in the South China Sea.
"China's upgrading of the administrative level of Sansha city and establishment of a new military garrison there covering disputed areas of the South China Sea run counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region," Xinhua quoted the State Department statement as saying.
Xinhua said the statement, which "ignores facts and deliberately confuses right and wrong", is an "apparent interference in the internal affairs of China", and reflects America's "ambition of manipulating Asian affairs".
China has persistently called for resolving the maritime disputes through negotiations between countries directly concerned on the basis of historical facts and universally recognised international law, it said.
The historical facts that China has "indisputable sovereignty" over the Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha Islands and their adjacent waters are clear.
China set up an office in 1959 to administrate the three islands and their adjacent waters under Guangdong province.
The establishment of Sansha city last month was a necessary adjustment to the administrative structure, which is well within China's sovereignty, Xinhua said.
It is also well known that China sets up a garrison command in a prefecture-level city in China, and a military garrison in Sansha city "should not be seen as something unexpected".
The Chinese news agency said that since the establishment of Sansha city, "the US government and several politicians have repeatedly made irresponsible remarks on the issue, reflecting Washington's attempts to meddle in Asian affairs".
In July 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country had a "national interest" in the South China Sea. Ever since then, Washington has taken a series of unilateral actions in the region.
This year, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta announced a shift of deployment of the US Navy from its current 50-50 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to 60-40 by 2020.
"And now, Washington has raised its tone again and sent wrong signals to the world on the South China Sea issue," Xinhua said.
Although Washington claims that it does not take a position on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, "it selectively takes sides in these disputes". By doing so, Washington intends to alienate China from countries around the South China Sea, the news agency commented.
Washington's approach was "obviously not conducive" to the peaceful settlement of the disputes as well as the peace and stability in the area.
The news agency suggested that against the backdrop of the global financial and economic turbulence, Washington and Beijing should work together to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region.