Admiral Sun Jianguo, China's deputy chief of joint staff, said China will "not accept or participate in the so-called arbitration" due shortly in a ruling from the United Nations' arbitration court at The Hague in the Netherlands regarding a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
The case was put forth in January 2013 by the Philippines, which along with Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, lays claim to parts of the disputed area. Sun said the Philippine petition goes against a bilateral understanding to resolve the issue through negotiations. "The purpose of the Philippines is to cover up its illegal occupancy," Sun said.
Sun was speaking at a three-day security conference in Singapore at which defense ministers from the U.S. and Japan called on all disputants in the South China Sea, including China, to abide by the court ruling.
At a question-and-answer session on Sunday, the last day of the 15th Asia Security Summit, Sun responded directly to comments made by Ashton Carter, the U.S. secretary of defense, on Saturday calling on China to be "an open, inclusive, and responsible participant" in regional efforts to foster peace.
Carter said that if China continues with reclamation and militarization in the disputed waters, it risked "erecting a great wall of self-isolation". Sun derided this comment, indicating that it arose from a "prejudiced, Cold War mentality".
"I worry that some countries build up wars in their minds and isolate themselves," Sun said. "We were not isolated in the past, we are not isolated now, and we will never be in the future."
Sun also spoke of his interactions with other ministers at the summit. "Most are warmer and friendlier than last year, and they showed respect and trust," Sun said directly after his allusion to Carter.
China has reclaimed and militarized land in the South China Sea by creating artificial islands and building installations, including runways. This has heightened tensions with the Philippines in particular, as well as Vietnam and elsewhere within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Sun also struck back with criticism of recent U.S. military deployments in the region, including ships and aircraft. He said freedom of navigation rights should not be used to "openly show military muscle".
In an effort to drive a wedge between Southeast Asia and the U.S., Sun spoke of bilateral cooperation with a number of ASEAN countries. "China and ASEAN are capable of stabilizing the region," he said. "Countries outside should play a constructive role, not the other way round." TOMOMI KIKUCHI, Nikkei staff writer