Beijing: Amid a US push to rope in India and Japan to take a proactive role in the settlement of the South China Sea disputes, China on Friday said progress has been made in its efforts to evolve a 'Code of Conduct' and outside powers should not do anything to "escalate tensions".
Consultations between China and ASEAN countries on Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea (SCS), have made positive progress, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said reacting to a US military commander who called on Japan to extend air patrols to SCS.
"As is witnessed by all, the situation in South China Sea is stable. We are willing and capable of maintaining peace and stability in SCS. Outside countries should respect efforts made by the countries in the region to keep peaceful situation and stop doing things that will escalate tension," she said.
Robert Thomas, commander of the Seventh Fleet, said yesterday that the US would welcome a Japanese extension of air patrols over the South China Sea, because "the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coastguard and the [navy] over-match their neighbours".
Earlier, the US President Barack Obama during his visit to India said, "US welcomes a greater role for India in the Asia Pacific, where the freedom of navigation must be upheld and disputes must be resolved peacefully."
China claims almost all of the SCS, which is disputed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Japan.
Hua said all sides have agreed to complete the COC and also reached important consensus on "early harvest".
Hua's remarks came after a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Malaysia.
China and the ASEAN countries are working to comprehensively and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and steadily push forward consultations on the COC, said Hua.
Signed in 2002, the DOC outlined the most important principles in the management of disputes on the SCS.
Commenting on Robert's invitation to Japan to patrol SCS, state-run Global Times said, "Japan won't be allowed to enter the South China Sea as another US ally. The region won't be overshadowed by the US-Japan alliance. The support of only a few countries for Japan can never represent the stance of the whole region and China's attitude must be respected."
"If Japan unilaterally sends air patrols into the South China Sea, it's imperative that China makes a counter strike.
"China can announce the establishment of a South China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone and accelerate buildups in the South China Sea.
"It can also cement military cooperation with Russia in Northeast Asia as a counterweight to the US-Japan alliance," it said.