(Updates with government response in second paragraph.)
Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- China’s neighbors should prepare “for the sounds of cannons” if they don’t temper their positions in territorial disputes over the South China Sea, the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial today.
Countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea should not take China’s “mild diplomatic stance” for granted as they seek to resolve conflicting territorial claims, the newspaper said. The government distanced itself from the report today, saying it didn’t represent its views.
“If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons,” the unsigned editorial said. “We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved.”
The Global Times is owned by the People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. The editorial said China’s current understanding is that such disputes should be resolved via negotiation. “But if a situation turns ugly, some military action is necessary,” it said.
In response to questions about the editorial, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters today in Beijing that China “adheres to the strategy of peaceful development” and is committed “to resolving the maritime dispute through peaceful means.”
“Sowing discord and hostility will only complicate” the issue, Jiang said.
China has used patrol vessels in recent months to thwart efforts by Vietnam and the Philippines to explore for oil and gas in the South China Sea. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in July that increased confrontations in the area are a threat to sea lanes.
Competing claims to the South China Sea threaten to sour ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia as the countries compete over oil, gas and fisheries resources in the disputed waters.
China, citing historical evidence such as pottery shards, claims a tongue-shaped swath of the sea demarcated by nine dashes that extends hundreds of miles south from Hainan Island to the equatorial waters off the coast of Borneo.
--Nicholas Wadhams, Michael Forsythe. Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Patrick Harrington
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