The forceful comments by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan
came just a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured
China's sole aircraft carrier, in a rare opening by Beijing to a
potent symbol of its military ambitions.
Chang and Hagel spoke positively about improving military ties and
announced steps to deepen them further. But the effort could do
little to mask long-standing tension over of a range of issues,
including in cyberspace but focused mainly on the two U.S. allies
locked in territorial disputes with China.
China claims 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq
mile) South China Sea, where the Philippines, along with other
countries, stake claims. China has a separate dispute with Japan in
the East China Sea over uninhabited islets that are administered by
Chang asked the United States to "keep (Japan) within bounds and not
to be permissive and supportive", and railed against the government
of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who Hagel met in Tokyo last
"It is Japan who is being provocative against China," Chang told a
news conference after talks with Hagel.
"If you come to the conclusion that China is going to resort to
force against Japan, that is wrong ... we will not take the
initiative to stir up troubles."
Chang called the Philippines a nation "disguising itself as a
victim" and renewed its opposition to Manila's pursuit of
international arbitration in its festering territorial dispute in
the South China Sea.
Hagel, who met the defense minister from the Philippines last week,
said he raised U.S. concerns in Beijing over the tension in the
South and East China Sea in Beijing.
He cautioned that no countries should resort to "intimidation,
coercion, or aggression to advance their claims".
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"The Philippines and Japan are longtime allies of the United States.
We have mutual self defense treaties with each of those two
countries," Hagel said. "And we are fully committed to those treaty
The U.S. State Department has accused China's coastguard of
harassment of Philippine vessels and called its recent attempt to
block a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, a
disputed atoll, provocative and destabilizing.
Hagel's visit to China came after a stop in Japan, where he called
China a "great power" but urged it to use that power wisely.
The official English-language China Daily, in an editorial on
Tuesday, slammed those comments and accused Hagel of "emboldening
countries in their bids to provoke China".
"Although it professes not to take sides, the U.S. has again sent a
message to those Asian countries which have territorial disputes
with China that the U.S. will throw its weight behind them in their
actions against China," the state-run paper wrote.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
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