19:01 GMT +327 February 2017
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    China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea in this undated photo taken December, 2016

    China Favors Regional Consensus Approach to South China Sea Dispute

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    Asia & Pacific
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    Lu Kang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman said that China is ready to work with other Asian countries to ensure regional peace and stability and China hopes for any country concerned with the dispute to respect consensus decisions worked out by the sides.

    BEIJING (Sputnik) — China insists on settling the South China Sea dispute by direct consultations among all countries involved, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesman said in response to US State Secretary nominee Rex Tillerson's criticism on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, US media reported that President-elect Donald Trump's foreign affairs chief hopeful planned to make a speech criticizing China's artificial island construction in the South China Sea and other aspects of the Chinese foreign policy. Tillerson reportedly described China's land reclamation project in the area as illegal and said it was in violation of international norms.

    "Regarding the South China Sea, I think that you know the Chinese position. I want to stress that since the second half of last year, we agreed with other countries that are involved in the South China Sea dispute to return to a consensus on settling such disputes by consultations between the countries," Lu Kang said at a briefing, addressing Tillerson's claims.

    China is ready to work with other Asian countries to ensure regional peace and stability, the spokesman added, noting that China hopes for any country concerned with the dispute to respect consensus decisions worked out by the sides.

    Beijing’s territorial claims to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves, run counter to those of the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. The dispute has been scaled down after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte played down the country's concerns over Chinese artificial islands amid warming relations between the countries.

    Regarding Tillerson's claim that China is not a reliable partner on resolving the North Korean nuclear threat issue, the spokesman stated that China has made a considerable effort at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

    "The countries of the Korean peninsula are our neighbors. We care about peace and stability on the peninsula more than any other country, as this involves our interests… All sides concerned must work together to create the necessary conditions for resuming six-party talks," Lu said.

    On September 9, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in violation of international law. The international community condemned the nuclear test, and imposed harsh sanctions on Pyongyang following an earlier test in January.

    The Six-Party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula involving North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the United States, China and Japan were held between 2003 and ended after North Korea withdrew from negotiations in 2009.

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