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'Outsiders' urged to respect region's will

By Mo Jingx | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-04 07:09

"Regional outsiders" should respect the will and interests of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Friday when asked to comment on the prediction by the White House chief strategist of a US-China war over the South China Sea.

Lu reaffirmed China's sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters, saying that China will safeguard its territorial sovereignty as well as maritime rights and interests.

"Maintaining the peace, stability and security of the region will benefit all parties," he said at a daily news conference in Beijing.

Steve Bannon, former head of far-right news website Breitbart and now the chief strategist of US President Donald Trump's administration, said on a radio show in March that "the US and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and "there's no doubt about that".

Similarly, new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at his confirmation hearing last month that China should be barred from the islands it has built in the South China Sea.

However, Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday that fears over a US-China war were overblown.

"I don't think it will happen. Trump is a businessman and he knows that if war breaks out, businesses will suffer," Lorenzana told Bloomberg News in an interview in Manila.

While pledging to stay neutral if tensions between the US and China continued to escalate in the South China Sea, Lorenzana also said the Philippines will not wage war over the South China Sea islands.

China and the Philippines agreed to peacefully solve disputes through direct talks during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to China in October.

In July, China and ASEAN reaffirmed in a joint statement their support for South China Sea disputes to be resolved by parties directly involved and agreed to work toward an early adoption of a more detailed code of conduct.

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