In comments made yesterday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that changing position on China’s claims over the South China Sea would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children.
According to Reuters, Wang said that China would not be able to face its children and grandchildren if “the gradual and incremental invasion of China’s sovereignty and encroachment on China’s interests” was allowed to continue.
The comments come one day after a top diplomat from the U.S. State Department said China’s behaviour in the South China Sea resembled that of Russia in eastern Ukraine, a stern yet far less extreme comparison than that made by the Philippine president who compared China to Nazi Germany.
Wang made the comments while addressing a group of former officials and academics. While not directly addressing the accusations from the US, he added that “China is in reality the biggest victim.”
“One thousand years ago China was a large sea-faring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands,” he said.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which a staggering 5 trillion USD in ship-borne trade flows each year, and has in recent years become increasingly assertive in the region.
Last month, a CNN camera crew captured footage of the Chinese demanding a U.S. surveillance aircraft leave the area as it carried out reconnaissance over a chain of artificial islands in the South China Sea where China is constructing military installations.
By Dominic Jackson