China has called on the United Kingdom that London should live up to its promises to remain impartial in a dispute between Beijing and several other countries about the South China Sea region.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Chinese State Councilor (foreign minister) Wang Yi had met his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt a day earlier in New York, adding that top diplomats had discussed during the meeting the issue of China’s sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea region.
A statement said that Wang had expressed hope during the meeting that “Britain will truly implement its position of not taking sides in the South China Sea issue, earnestly respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and not do anything to disturb mutual trust between the two countries”.
The ministry said that Wang had reiterated China’s “stern position” on the South China Sea issue, especially after Britain dispatched a warship close to islands claimed by China in the region late last month.
Beijing lodged a strong complaint after the incident and said Britain was engaged in “provocation” in the region.
China claims the South China Sea in its entirety. However, several countries in the region have enjoyed support from the United States to revive their claims over some small islands in the region where China has expanded its military activity.
Britain seeks to bolster its economic ties with China as it prepares to leave the European Union in March. Officials said last month after the sailing of British Royal Navy warship in the South China Sea that they respect China’s sovereignty in the region.
There was not mention in the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement about discussions between Wang and Hunt in New York about Brexit and how the countries would work to expand trade ties.