US calls on China to stop ‘bullying behaviour’ in the South China Sea
- Beijing’s acts interfering in particular with Vietnamese oil and gas exploration and production, state department says
- Vietnam and China have long been locked in a maritime disagreement over the area’s resource-rich waters
The United States on Saturday expressed concern over reports that China is hampering other countries’ oil and gas activities in the South China Sea and accused Beijing of acting like a bully.
The state department said such acts by China – it did not say when they are alleged to have happened – threatened regional peace and security. It said the acts were interfering in particular with Vietnamese oil and gas exploration and production.
“As secretary Pompeo noted earlier this year, ‘by blocking development in the SCS [South China Sea] through coercive means, China prevents Asean members from accessing more than US$2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves’,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Vietnam and China have long been locked in a maritime disagreement over the resource-rich waters of the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by Beijing.
But the international community has largely sided with the other claimants – Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei – citing the importance of freedom of navigation.
“China’s reclamation and militarisation of disputed outposts in the SCS, along with other efforts to assert its unlawful SCS maritime claims, including the use of maritime militia to intimidate, coerce and threaten other nations, undermine the peace and security of the region,” the US statement said.
“The United States firmly opposes coercion and intimidation by any claimant to assert its territorial or maritime claims,” Ortagus said.
“China should cease its bullying behaviour and refrain from engaging in this type of provocative and destabilising activity.”