China urges US to ‘sincerely’ help Pacific Island nations in development, stability

China urges US to ‘sincerely’ help Pacific Island nations in development, stability

Beijing’s comments come after top US diplomat accused China of ‘problematic behavior’

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – A day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Beijing of “problematic behavior,” China Thursday called on Washington to “sincerely” help the Pacific Island nations in maintaining stability.

“The Pacific Island countries are not the backyard of any country,” said Mao Ning, spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

“We hope the US can sincerely help the Pacific Island nations develop, assisting these nations in achieving development and stability,” said Mao.

Beijing’s comments come as Blinken, who was in Tonga on his maiden visit to the small Pacific nation on Wednesday, took aim at China's growing engagements in the region, calling some of them “problematic behavior.”

“What I think one of the things that we’ve seen is that as China’s engagement in the region has grown, there has been some, from our perspective, increasingly problematic behavior, including at the same time the assertion of unlawful maritime claims – something that I’ve raised extensively when I was in China – the militarization of disputed features – for example, in the South China Seas, some predatory economic activities, and also investments,” Blinken said.

However, in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman retorted: “China has no interest in competing with any country for influence or seeking a so-called geostrategic presence or sphere of influence,” according to the daily Global Times.

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