China says it lodged repeated complaints with Japan over South China Sea

BEIJING —China’s Foreign Ministry says it has lodged repeated complaints with Japan over Tokyo’s criticism of Chinese behavior in the disputed South China Sea, warning Japan not to undermine improving relations between the two Asian rivals.

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he agreed with Philippine President Benigno Aquino to oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea.

China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday that Japanese officials’ recent remarks on the South China Sea have “seriously damaged the mutual political trust between China and Japan” and hurt the overall improvement in ties.

Hong said China “has expressed strong concern and indignation” about the remarks and “has repeatedly made representations”. He reminded Japan that it is not a party in the South China Sea issue.

“It’s deliberately interfered in the issue, provoked conflict within the countries in the region and maliciously manufactured tensions in the South China Sea,” Hong said at a regular briefing.

Hong called on Japan to abide by its commitment not to take sides in the dispute and “stop hyping up tensions in the South China Sea and making groundless accusations against China”.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2015.

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