BEIJING — China urged Australia on Thursday to refrain from making “irresponsible remarks” after Canberra issued a foreign policy paper citing security risks in the disputed South China Sea caused by Beijing’s activities there.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Australia should not take sides because it isn’t directly involved in the territorial disputes.
“Australia is not a party directly concerned in the South China Sea issue, and it has made clear many times that it does not take sides,” spokesman Lu Kang said. “We hope the Australian side will honor its commitment and stop making irresponsible remarks.”
Earlier Thursday, Australia released its first detailed policy document in 14 years on its national interests and diplomacy.
It said Australia is “particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China’s activities” in the South China Sea.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, pitting it against Taiwan and four Southeast Asian nations with overlapping claims in the waterway, which straddles busy international sea lanes and potentially has vast undersea deposits of oil and gas.
The U.S. and others have accused Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven islands it constructed on reefs and outcrops in the Spratly chain, which are equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.
“Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes,” the foreign policy report said.