China warns Japan against meddling in South China Sea dispute

China warns Japan against meddling in South China Sea dispute
File photo: A Chinese oil rig Haiyang Shi You 981(C) is seen in the South China Sea, about 210 km off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014. Vietnam is embroiled in a territorial row with China that flared up after Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

BEIJING - China warned Japan on Friday to stay out of a dispute with its neighbours over the South China Sea, a day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed concern about regional tensions that he said were stoked by China's "unilateral drilling".

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. It also has a separate maritime dispute with Japan over islands in the East Sea.

"The relevant Japanese statement neglects reality and confuses the facts, and takes a political motive to interfere with the situation in the South China Sea for a secret purpose,"Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. "We require the Japanese side to consistently take realistic actions to protect the region's peace and stability."

Tensions in the South China Sea flared this month when China moved a giant oil rig into an area also claimed by Vietnam. The Philippines, United States and Vietnam denounced China's actions.

Abe's remarks were in line with comments made by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who earlier this month expressed concerns about China's unilateral drilling boosting regional tensions.

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