US threatening `chaos` in Asia-Pacific: China

BEIJING: China accused the United States on Thursday of threatening to sow `chaos` in the Asia Pacific region by inciting countries whose territorial claims in the South China Sea clash with those of Beijing.

It is the latest round in a war of words over the area, where tensions are mounting and rhetoric escalating.

China is rapidly building artificial islands in the disputed waters, and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday demanded an `immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant`.

Beijing`s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing: `If the major powerhouse of world economic growth is thrown into chaos, will that serve the interests of the American side?` The countries that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum account for more than 50 per cent of global GDP and nearly half of world trade.

The South China Sea is a major shipping route for international trade.

Beijing insists it has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters far from the Chinese mainland and near the coasts of the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian neighbours.

The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane to leave an area above the disputed Spratly islands. But the American aircraft ignored the demand and said it was flying in what US officials consider international airspace.

Hua told Washington to `refrain from all the provocative words and deeds`.

`A few countries keep stirring up troubles in the South China Sea for (their) own selfish gains and provoking China`s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, while there are some other people who incite them to do so,` she added.

Carter made his remarks in Hawaii as he prepared to embark on an Asian tour.

Published in Dawn