Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has slammed Macron's recent comment about "hegemony," allegedly aimed at Beijing, reminding that there is only one country striving for hegemony in the world.
"In the eyes of the world, which country could be said actually to be exercising hegemony in the world nowadays? Who has also long exercised military or economic hegemony of every kind in the region?" she said without specifying the name of the country, but supposedly hinting on the US.
The comment by the Chinese Foreign Ministry comes following a statement by Macron during his recent visit to Australia that no power should seek to dominate in the Indo-Pacific region and that France, India and Australia must protect that region from "hegemony," without specifying by which country.
"What's important is to preserve rules-based development in the region… and to preserve necessary balances in the region," Macron said.
China is competing with several other countries in the region for disputed islands in the South China Sea. Recently, media reported that Beijing has allegedly set up land-based anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile defense systems on the Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs, as well as on the Spratly Islands. Beijing has not confirmed setting up missile systems, but noted that all its military facilities in the South China Sea are "purely defensive."
Beijing has territorial claims to what it calls the Nansha Islands, believed to be rich in oil and gas. The Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam have rival claims. The US, worried by increasing China's military presence, is conducting patrols with its warships for freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs). The US conducted six FONOPs during the Obama administration, all of them in the South China Sea.