In response to the United States, the Chinese consulate in Manila said that it "unswervingly upholds" its maritime rights and territorial sovereignty in a disputed part of the South China Sea, The Inquirer reported Sunday.
Nations that are not directly involved in its maritime dispute should "respect" efforts by Beijing and its neighbors to peacefully settle the conflict by themselves, China said, who also reiterated its expansive jurisdiction over the vast ocean.
Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, made the statement following a phone call between Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. and U.S. President Joe Biden's newly appointed Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who dismissed China's massive sea claim and vowed to defend the Philippines against aggression in the contested waters, GMA News reported.
"China's sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea have been formed in the course of a long history, and are in relation with international law and practice," the Zhao said in remarks quoted by ABS-CBN News.
China lays claim to nearly the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which over a third of the world's trade passes. The Philippines rejects China's claims, including the West Philippine Sea, a vast body of water within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Beijing's fortification of artificial islands with military installations, including anti-ship missiles and landing strips, has drawn strong condemnation from other countries.
Blinken previously said that the U.S. rejected China's maritime claims on the South China Sea beyond what is allowed under international law and stands with Southeast Asian nations contesting China's pressure.
Blinken made his remarks during a phone call to Locsin Jr., who earlier filed a diplomatic protest against China's new maritime law that authorizes its coast guard to fire at foreign ships in Chinese-claimed waters.
China, which views the maritime disputes a purely Asian issue, is against any foreign intervention, particularly the U.S. China and ASEAN are currently negotiating a binding Code of Conduct in the disputed areas.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional bloc comprised of Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Myanmar.
The United Nations-supported Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, earlier has nullified China's nine-dash line claim, a decision which Beijing refuses to acknowledge.
The U.S. regularly alleges that China is militarizing the disputed waters and trying to intimidate its Asian neighbors who might want to exploit the large oil and gas reserves believed to lie under the seabed.