Chinese officials slammed the U.S. on Tuesday over continued territorial disputes in the South China Sea after the U.S. issued a formal statement declaring most of China's claims in the region to be illegitimate.
A statement posted on the website of China's embassy in Washington, D.C., accused the U.S. of "flexing muscles" over a situation in which it was not directly involved.
“The United States is not a country directly involved in the disputes. However, it has kept interfering in the issue,” read the statement. “Under the pretext of preserving stability, it is flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region.”
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race MORE's Monday statement on the matter, it continued, "deliberately distorts the facts and international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), exaggerates the situation in the region and attempts to sow discord between China and other littoral countries."
The rebuke comes a day after Pompeo accused China's government of making "unlawful" maritime territory claims in the South China Sea and "bullying" nearby nations into acceding to China's demands.
“Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” the secretary said.
China's government has laid claim to around 80 percent of a 1.4 million-square-mile section of the South China Sea known for international trade routes as well as untapped natural gas reserves, claims heavily disputed by nearby Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines, which called for a "crafting of a code of conduct to prevent tension in that area" in response to Pompeo's statement.
The U.S. has previously insisted that maritime disputes between China and neighboring nations be settled at the United Nations.