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Friday, April 29, 2016, 16:20

China, Russia one on THAAD, South China Sea

By Agencies

China, Russia one on THAAD, South China Sea
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shakes hands after a joint press conference held at the Chin ese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING - Denouncing what they see as outside interference in the South China Sea and Korean Peninsula, the foreign ministers of Russia and China voiced mutual support Friday.

Following talks in Beijing, Russia's Sergey Lavrov and China's Wang Yi expressed opposition to the US deployment of an anti-missile system in the Republic of Korea (RoK) and said non-claimants should not take sides in the dispute over maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Despite endorsing United Nations Security Council sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its missile launches and nuclear tests, the two strongly criticized the proposed deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system.

"Relevant countries shouldn't use Pyongyang's acts as a pretext to increase their military presence on the Korean Peninsula," Lavrov told a joint news conference. "We believe the possible deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system won't resolve this problem."

Both Russia and China see the deployment as exceeding what is necessary to defend against any DPRK threat and would "directly affect strategic security of Russia and China," Wang said.

That could "add fuel to the fire of an already tense situation and even possibly wreck the regional strategic balance," Wang said.

Both men called for efforts to restart long-stalled six-nation talks on ending DPRK's nuclear programs.

Their meeting came amid renewed tension on the Korean Peninsula, with ROK officials saying the North attempted unsuccessfully to test-fire two suspected powerful intermediate-range missiles on Thursday.

It also comes ahead of a major DPRK ruling party meeting.

On the South China Sea Lavrov said outside parties shouldn't interfere, a reference to the United States, which has challenged Beijing's claims.

Wang said it was up to those countries directly involved to find a peaceful resolution through negotiations.

"International society, particularly countries from outside the South China Sea, should play a constructive function in maintaining peace and stability and not contribute to the situation becoming more chaotic," Wang said.

Along with enlisting Russia's support, China has reached a new consensus reached with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos — three members of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations — endorsing its stance that the South China Sea dispute should not be an issue for ASEAN as a whole.

While the US says it takes no position on South China Sea sovereignty claims, it has worked to shore up the military capabilities of the Philippines, a treaty ally. Washington has also called on China to end its island-building projects and the US Navy has repeatedly sailed and flown ships and planes nearby those structures, drawing sharp responses from the Chinese navy.

Wang and Lavrov both hailed two decades of warming ties between Moscow and Beijing. Putin is scheduled to visit China in June.

The Nansha Islands have been part of the Chinese territory since ancient times. Chinese activities in the South China Sea date back to 2000 years ago.

China was the first country to discover, name and exploit the resources of the South China Sea islands. China was also the first country that exercised and has continuously exercised sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the islands.

In 1946, the Chinese government resumed exercise of sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and reefs from foreign powers that had occupied them, and re-erected a monument of sovereignty on the main island.

In 1947, China made public the old and new name table of the South China Sea islands and the "South Sea Islands Location Map," declaring China's territorial and maritime demarcation.

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