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23 Apr, 2020 13:19

Meddling will ‘not succeed’: Beijing rebukes Pompeo’s charge of ‘exploiting’ Covid-19 crisis to boost influence in South China Sea

Meddling will ‘not succeed’: Beijing rebukes Pompeo’s charge of ‘exploiting’ Covid-19 crisis to boost influence in South China Sea

China’s foreign ministry has dismissed the US’ accusation that it’s using the pandemic to divert attention from Hong Kong and “bully” its neighbors in the South China Sea. Beijing sees this as interference in its internal affairs.

“No matter when and where, China will firmly defend its sovereignty and security interests,” China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Thursday. 

The affairs of Taiwan and Hong Kong are purely the domestic affairs of China, and no foreign forces are allowed to interfere.

Geng was responding to a comment by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who on Wednesday accused Beijing of “exploiting” the world's current focus on the Covid-19 pandemic to increase pressure on Hong Kong, China's self-governing territory, which has seen prolonged anti-government protests and riots since last summer. The top US diplomat also said that China was exerting military pressure on Taiwan and “bullying” its other neighbors in the South China Sea.

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Geng stressed that any attempt by US politicians to interfere in the region “will not succeed.” He reiterated China’s claim of sovereignty over the contested territorial waters and small islands in the South China Sea. The region remains contentious as China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have territorial claims in the area.

On Wednesday, the Philippines formally protested to Beijing, accusing a Chinese warship of locking its “fire control radar” on a Philippine Navy vessel.

Earlier this month, Vietnam accused China’s Coast Guard of purposely ramming and sinking one of its fishing boats. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, said that it was the fishing boat that had rammed one of its ships, and that that the Vietnamese crew had been rescued.

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