China on Thursday slammed the remarks on the South China Sea in a white paper released by the Australian government, urging the Australia government to stop releasing "irresponsible remarks."
Though the white paper has given positive comments about China's development and Sino-Australian relations, the remarks on the South China Sea issue were irresponsible, and we have expressed severe concerns, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Thursday.
"Australia is particularly concerned about the unprecedented pace and scale of China's activities," read the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper released on Thursday.
The white paper was launched by the Australian prime minister and the ministers for foreign affairs and trade, tourism and investment.
It is also the first comprehensive white paper on Australia's international engagement in 14 years.
"Australia is not a claimant state of the South China Sea issue and has repeatedly stated that the country does not have any stance on issues of sovereignty disputes," Lu said, urging Australia to keep its promise and stop making "irresponsible remarks" on the issue.
"China and countries surrounding the region, or Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, have agreed to peacefully resolve disputes through negotiations among parties directly involved," Lu said.
Both China and ASEAN countries are making joint efforts to safeguard the peace and stability in the region, and we hope countries outside the region respect these efforts, he added.
The white paper's highlight of the South China Sea issue is an inappropriate move, especially when the countries in the region are jointly promoting stability, cooperation and development, Liu Feng, a Hainan-based expert on the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Thursday.
China and ASEAN have reaffirmed their commitment to long-term peace and stability in the South China Sea as they announced the start of negotiations on the details of a code of conduct in the area, the Xinhua News Agency reported on November 16.
The white paper also committed Australia to deeper engagement with other countries in the region, a move widely viewed as a hedging strategy against China, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
By doing so, Australia is seeking visibility in the South China Sea and in Southeast Asia, Liu said.
He added that Australia is also seeking potential benefits for itself by closely following the strategy of the US and enhancing the US-Australia alliance. China should push forward its practical cooperation with countries surrounding the South China Sea to expand their mutual interests and leave no room for disturbance from outside countries, according to Liu.