A top Chinese military official has criticized US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for threatening his country over a dispute with Japan, state television reported.
On Saturday, Hagel accused China of taking destabilizing and unilateral actions in the Asia-Pacific region, saying the Asian country is trying to restrict navigation or ignore international rules and standards.
Wang Guanzhong, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said Hagel’s remarks are baseless.
He also condemned Hagel for making such comments in public before fellow defense chiefs, diplomats and security experts who were attending the Shangri-La conference in Singapore on Saturday.
“This speech is completely non-constructive and moreover is public, several times criticizing China by name, and these kinds of accusations are completely without basis, without reason,” Wang was quoted as saying by state broadcaster China Central Television.
He described Hagel’s remarks as intimidating and threatening. “This speech is full of hegemony, full of incitement, threats, intimidation.”
Tensions have risen between China and Japan in the South China Sea, after Beijing declared an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea last November.
Hagel said the US “will not look the other way” if the international order is threatened by nations such as China.
“All nations of the region, including China, have a choice: to unite, and recommit to a stable regional order, or, to walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that has benefited millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific, and billions around the world,” he said.
On Thursday, the United States warned Beijing not to fan the flames of regional tension by attempting to interfere with freedom of overflight in international airspace.
The US State Department issued the warning after Japan accused China of “dangerous maneuvers” above territories claimed by the two countries.